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Miguel Induráin

Miguel Ángel Induráin Larraya (born July 16, 1964, Villava, Navarre) is a retired Spanish road bicycle racer. He is best known for having won the Tour de France from 1991 to 1995, becoming the first person to win the event five consecutive times. (Jacques Anquetil was the first to win the event five times non-consecutively.) Induráin's ability and physical size -- 1.88m (6 ft 2 in) and 80 kg (176lbs) -- earned him the nickname "Big Mig."

Biography

Induráin turned professional in 1985 and entered the Tour de France for the first time the same year, ultimately entering it in each of the next eleven years. Although he abandoned in 1985 and 1986, his standing improved steadily until his first win in 1991. He wore the yellow jersey in the 1990 Tour and seemed poised to win, but was unwilling to eclipse his team captain.

Induráin is often said to have been the best time trialist in the Grand Tours, putting in large gains against his rivals on the time-trial stages and riding defensively in the climbing stages. In the 1992 Tour he finished a 65 km time trial an astonishing three minutes ahead of the second-place rider. Despite his five Tour victories, he won only two Tour stages that were not individual time trials: two mountain stages to la Cambasque and Luz Ardiden in the Pyrenees.

In the 1996 Tour, Induráin was aiming for a sixth victory, but he suffered from bronchitis after an extremely cold and wet first week of the race, and could not prevail over Bjarne Riis. Induráin finished 11th and, in a stage passing through his home town and ending in Pamplona, he finished 19th, a humiliating eight minutes behind the stage winner. Later that year he abandoned the Vuelta a Espańa, which his Banesto team had insisted he enter, saying that his legs felt like wood and that he could not breathe. He later announced his retirement from racing.

In 1992 and 1993, years in which he won the Tour, Induráin also won the Giro d'Italia. In 1994 he set a World Hour record of 53.040 kilometres (circa 32.96 miles), breaking the previous record set by Scotland's Graeme Obree. During the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, where professional cyclists were allowed to compete for the first time, Induráin won the gold medal in the individual time trial. He also won the Dauphiné Libéré in 1995 and 1996.

Personally, Induráin could be shy and self-effacing, even during the five years when he utterly dominated the Tour. He resisted comparison to great Tour champions of the past and once said that he had "never felt superior to anyone." On the bike, he seemed never to struggle or lose his composure. That, along with his quiet nature, led some to characterize him as an extra-terrestrial or a robot.

In retirement he is a member of the Spanish Olympic Committee and of UCI's Professional Cycling Council. He is also Honorary President for the Miguel Induráin Foundation. He often comes to cyclotourist events such as L'Etape du Tour.

Physical advantages

At the top of his career, Miguel Indurain had a physique that wasn't only superior to average people, but also compared to his fellow athletes. His blood circulation had the ability to circulate 7 litres of oxygen around his body per minute[1], compared to the average amount of 3-4 litres of an ordinary person and the 5-6 litres of his fellow riders. Also, Indurain's lung capacity was 8 litres, compared to an average of 5 litres. In addition, Indurain's resting pulse was as low as 29 BPM, compared to a normal human's 60-90 bpm , which meant his heart would be less strained in the tough mountain stages[2]. His VO2 max was 88 ml/kg/min, in comparison Lance Armstrong's was 84 ml/kg/min.

Career highlights

Giro d'Italia finishings

  • 1992: 1st

  • 1993: 1st

  • 1994: 3rd

Tour de France finishings

  • 1985: Withdrew, 4th stage

  • 1986: Withdrew, 8th stage

  • 1987: 97th

  • 1988: 47th

  • 1989: 17th

  • 1990: 10th

  • 1991: 1st

  • 1992: 1st

  • 1993: 1st

  • 1994: 1st

  • 1995: 1st

  • 1996: 11th

Quotes

  • "Indurain makes me sick because he's actually a really nice guy. You can't actually work yourself up, there's no hate involved, no anger. He's a really nice bloke and a true champion." — Chris Boardman

Notes

  1.   Danish Cycle Union profile

  2.   1991-1995: Big Mig's masterclass, BBC, August 3, 2004

  • This page was last modified 05:48, 14 May 2006.

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