Miguel Angel Lopez crashes out while leading Tour of the Gila
Miguel Angel López (Team Medellin) crashed out of the Tour of the Gila early on stage 2 while leading the race. According to the race organisation, the Colombian suffered abrasions and did not require transportation to hospital.
López claimed the lead with a storming ride on the stage 1 summit finish at Mogollon, and went into the second out-and-back stage to Fort Bayard with a lead of 55 seconds over Torbjøn Røed (Above and Beyond Cancer) and 1:04 on Project Echelon's Richard Arnopol.
However, the often treacherous descent from Piños Altos, where the final stage concludes on a loop raced in the opposite direction, claimed López and at least three other riders who were transported to the hospital with injuries: Matteo Dal-Cin and Theodore De Groote (Toronto Hustle) and Orion Child (Aevolo).
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The crash occurred around 30 kilometres into the stage as López's teammate Oscar Sevilla was in a breakaway around one minute up the road.
“Well, today is a sad day for Team Medellín, with Miguel's withdrawal,” said Sevilla.
“We hope he doesn’t have anything beyond the burns and scrapes he had. He hit a tree and had several injuries throughout his body, which is unfortunate because he is a great rider who likes to be very strong.”
Organisers neutralised the race because more than half of the field had been involved in the wreck, which came on a descent just after the first mountain sprint. Riders finished the long, tricky descent to Lake Roberts - 19km with the race in - before racing resumed.
While such accidents are common in the race, the rough road surfaces, rugged terrain and sometimes quite steep gradients can lead to serious injuries. In 2014 a similar crash knocked 14 riders out of the race on the opening stage, with two riders needing to be airlifted from the course. Both recovered.
The same was not the case for Chad Young, who crashed while trying to chase back to the peloton on a steep descent near the Continental Divide during the out-and-back stretch of the final stage from the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and a week later died due to his injuries.
López, who has 12 Grand Tour starts, a podium in the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España along with three Vuelta stage wins, a Tour de France stage win, and overall wins in the Tour de Suisse and Volta a Catalunya is racing with Team Medellin after being sacked from Astana over alleged links to a doctor who was charged with doping athletes.
While he awaits his wrongful dismissal appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to be resolved, López has been racking up victories all across South America, winning the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina, the Colombian time trial title, the Vuelta al Tolima and yesterday, the opening stage of the Tour of the Gila.