Movistar Team leader Miguel Ángel López put on a climbing clinic today. The 27-year-old blew away the field at the 2021 Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, taking victory on one of France’s most hallowed peaks.
López went on the offensive early on in the climb, attacking with still 12.5 kilometers to go. He left himself a lot of distance to cover, but nobody else was on his level on the day. As soon as the Colombian got a gap, Movistar found themselves in a great position. Enric Mas and Carlos Verona both looked strong on the final climb. As a result, the Spanish team was able to cover counterattacks and disrupt the chasing efforts of other teams.
When it was all said and done, López won the race by a margin of 2:26 ahead of the second place finisher, Óscar Rodríguez. Mas came home in third and Verona finished ninth, giving Movistar three riders in the top ten.
Superman López’s performance was dominant in comparison to the other riders in the race. It also stands up impressively well to historical times on Mont Ventoux.
MONT VENTOUX (last 15.65 km, 8.74 %, 1368 m) | #MVDC
Tour de France 1994, 2000, 2002, 2009, 2013
Criterium du Dauphine 2004, 2007, 2009
Mont Ventoux Denivele Challenge 2019, 2021 pic.twitter.com/A0bR6EGtQb
— ammattipyöräily (@ammattipyoraily) June 8, 2021
According to calculations done by Twitter user ammattipyöräily, López climbed Ventoux nearly a minute faster than the likes of Armstrong and Froome in 2002 and 2013. A Grand Tour is certainly a different beast from a one day race. However, this sort of form still bodes extremely well for the Colombian as he gears up for his first Tour de France with Movistar.
With the 2021 Tour de France set to begin in about two and a half weeks, today’s race was a real statement of intent from López and Movistar.
It remains exceedingly likely that Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar will be the two strongest riders in the race. However, Movistar should come to the race with a dangerous team.
Considering how strong López was today, it is worth remembering that Enric Mas finished one spot ahead of him at last year’s Tour. If the two riders can work together harmoniously, they could pose a real threat to the expected hierarchy. Given that Movistar also has the potential to bring riders like Carlos Verona, Marc Soler and Alejandro Valverde to the Tour, it is likely that they will have no shortage of weapons to deploy on the climbs.
Movistar has gotten some flack in the past over their difficulties with managing multiple leaders in the same team. In particular, many felt that they fell short with their trident of Mikel Landa, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde at the 2018 Tour de France.
It is a skill that the likes of Ineos and Jumbo-Visma have seemingly mastered. This is a large part of why they have been arguably the two most successful stage racing teams in men’s cycling over the past few years.
If Movistar can use Mas and López together at the Tour like they did today, they could take a large step towards rewriting the narrative that they are incapable of replicating that success.
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