Official: Miguel Ángel López signs with Team Medellín

This article originally appeared on Velo News

Miguel Angel Lopez will race in 2023 with Team Medellin in a late-hour deal to save the Colombian star’s season following his high-profile departure from Astana-Qazaqstan.

Last month, Lopez was released from his WorldTour contract for alleged links to an ongoing doping investigation in Spain, something Lopez vehemently denies having any connection to.

Team Medellin, a third-tier continental squad backed in part by local governments, confirmed his arrival Monday.

“It was a complicated year, being without a team in 2023, with all the team’s filled up and there wasn’t any space,” Lopez said Monday. “This team has given me a big opportunity to race in 2023. To start with in the Vuelta a San Juan, and we can race and get through the season.”

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The arrival of Lopez also heightens expectations that Nairo Quintana, who similarly remains without a contract for 2023, could also join the squad.

Lopez, 28, is under the spotlight for alleged links to an ongoing investigation in Spain centered on a doctor who allegedly provided spiked nutritional products laced with performance-boosters to top-level athletes.

Two people were arrested and another half dozen were investigated, Spanish authorities said in November.

Lopez was briefly held by Spanish authorities for questioning last summer, but was released. Lopez has strongly denied any links to the scandal.

That didn’t stop Astana-Qazaqstan from releasing him from his 2023 contract in December.

"Astana Qazaqstan Team discovered new elements showing Miguel Angel Lopez's probable connection with Dr. Marcos Maynar," the Astana statement said last month. "Accordingly, the team had no other solution than to end the contract between team and rider.”

The late-hour contract comes following a few tumultuous seasons for Lopez, who angrily abandoned the 2021 Vuelta a Espana with one stage to go. That led to the termination of his contract with Team Movistar.

Lopez will join the likes of Oscar Sevilla and former U23 world champion Fabio Duarte on the Colombian team.

Since the team is registered at the UCI’s third tier, it cannot start in WorldTour-level races, so a grand tour will not be in the cards for 2023.

Lopez will debut in team colors at the Vuelta a San Juan (January 22-29) and the team hopes to compete in select races in Europe and the United States later this season.

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