Miguel Induráin: One of the Best Spanish Cyclists of all Time
Only four cyclists can say that they've won the Tour de France five times. One of them is the Spaniard Miguel Induráin, who also won them consecutively.
Miguel Induráin Larraya was a professional cyclist between 1984 and 1996. During that period, he became one of the most exceptional athletes in the sport. He devoted himself to the most important races. In this article, we’ll review the trajectory of this important figure.
From his youth in Villava, Navarra, Induráin was interested in cycling. He received a bicycle as a child to enable him to visit his mother in a nearby town. At that point, he already noticed his attachment to his bicycle and the opportunities it brought.
He began competing at age twelve and stood out (from the beginning) in regional competitions. Later, at 18 years and after having developed a successful youth career, the Reynolds professional team signed him. In 1984, at the young age of twenty, he debuted as a professional for that same level.
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The great achievements of Miguel Induráin
The most outstanding achievements of the Spanish cyclist were in the 1996 Olympic Games, the Tour de France, where he won five times, and in the Tour of Italy, which he won twice. Below, we offer a brief review of each of his successes.
Tour de France
He first competed in this race in 1985, aged 21. Although he didn’t finish the race, it was the beginning of a successful career. In 1988 he was Pedro Delgado’s partner, who won the most famous competition in this sport.
In 1991, Miguel Induráin won his first Tour de France. Greg Lemond was the favorite for that year, but Induráin’s performance earned him a historic victory. He was the fourth Spaniard to win the French race.
The success continued in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995. His third victory in 1993 was particularly difficult since Induráin became ill during the middle of the competition. He had to fight a fever in the third time trial. However, even then his competitors couldn’t beat him.
For both his last victories and for the following year, 1996, specialists considered Induráin to be one of the top contenders to win the yellow jersey. However, the domination of the Spanish cyclist ended in 1996 and various circumstances led him to retire shortly after.
Giro de Italia
In 1992 and 1993, Induráin participated in the Spin and Tour. In doing so, he became the first Spanish cyclist to win in this Italian race. On both occasions, he knew how to take advantage of the time trial stages, which were his strength, and how to endure the onslaught of his competitors on the mountain and in the time trial climb.
The World Time Trial Championship of 1995
This race, which is one of the world cycling competitions (one of the three races of the World Road Cycling Championship), was held in Colombia this year. Induráin performed very well in the circuits of the different cities, which led him to first place.
However, he didn’t try to keep the time record, which rewards the cyclist who travels the greatest distance in a specific period of time because the velodrome was in poor condition. Precisely, that was one of his first clashes with the managers of the Banesto team.
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Olympic Games Atlanta 1996
For this Olympic event, Induráin was already contemplating the decision to leave the cycling world. That year he didn’t compete in the Giro d’Italia and the cold and rainy weather played tricks on him at the Tour de France, where the Danish Bjarne Riis was crowned for the first time. Eleven years later, the person who dethroned Induráin admitted to doping in that race.
In addition, Miguel Induráin had to leave in the 13th stage of the Tour of Spain. He claimed that he didn’t feel physically able to finish the race.
However, on American soil, he was victorious. In Atlanta, the Spaniard won the gold medal in the time trial.
Miguel Induráin and his retirement
Certain attitudes of his team, especially the obligation to compete in races such as the Tour of Spain of 1996, caused the cyclist to cut ties and retire from his professional career.
In his farewell conference, he said that his main reason for retiring was to spend more time with his family. He considered that the Olympic Games had been a good farewell, despite the fact that his last image as a cyclist was forfeiting the race in Spain.
In short, there’s no doubt that Miguel Induráin will be remembered as one of the best cyclists of all time. He won the Tour de France five times- which could have been six – an Olympic gold medal and the Giro d’Italia twice, his vast career speaks clearly of his quality as an athlete.