The new race leader chose the 5km to go mark and the steepest part of the climb to launch an attack. While Australia's Johnathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) bridged the gap, Lopez accelerated again with 3km remaining while fellow Colombian Daniel Jaramillo (Unitedhealthcare) could only cross the line 30 seconds behind.
“It was a very fast stage. I had to justify my team-mates’ dedication," Lopez said.
"With one rider less, it wasn’t easy to do so much work to make me win up here, but I attacked where I was told to do so. This is a very important victory for me. To start the season well will give me a lot of confidence and serenity for my further goals, the main one being the Vuelta a España.”
Ho Burr (HKSI), Shiki Kuroeda (Aisan) and Lukas Jaun (Roth) broke free after 24 kilometres. The peloton finally reacted when the trio reached a gap of 6 minutes 27 seconds at the 45th kilometre. Meiyin Wang (Hengxiang), Donaben Goh (Terengganu) and Loh Sea Keong (Malaysia) counter attacked, catching the leaders with only Ho able to hang on as they crossed the Ringlet first category climb in that order. The group was caught on the final climb to Tanah Rata.
South Africa’s Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) sits second on GC, 29 seconds in arrears, Jaramillo in third, 34 seconds off the pace.