The Colombian climber could not win on the summit finish at the observatory atop the Alto de Javalambre, but he revealed himself to be, for now at least, the strongest of the GC climbers.
López powered up the final four kilometres after he crowned a blistering attack by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) with an equally savage move of his own.
Riding solo and without any sign of weakening, the Colombian climber crossed the line with a 12-second advantage over Valverde and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), the latter the rider he – logically – fears most, given the stage 10 time trial in Pau.
“Today was important because the time trial is getting close,” López told reporters afterwards. “I knew that the start of the climb wasn’t so hard, so I decided to wait until there were only the leaders left, and finally we got to a point when only Roglič and Valverde remained.
“I decided to see how they would respond, I only got a few seconds, but it’s better than nothing.”
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