Great Cyclists of the Tour de France: Miguel Indurain
Miguel Indurain will always be known as one of the greatest cyclists to ever compete in the Tour de France. Indurain was the first cyclist to ever win five straight Tour de France championships, and was one of only five riders to ever win five championships at all. He was known as a gifted rider who excelled at time trials, and was nicknamed “Miguelón” due to his natural ability and his uncommon size for a cyclist. Indurain competed in eleven straight years of the Tour de France, beginning in 1985, the year he turned professional. He didn’t get off to the best start, as he dropped out of the running both of his first two years, and failed to crack the top twenty until 1989, when he finished 17th overall. He did manage to build upon that success in 1990, finishing 10th, but no one could have predicted the incredible run he was about to begin the next year.
In the 1991 Tour de France, he won just two stages, but was still able to pull out the win in the overall race. His two stage wins were individual time trials, contributing to his reputation as a time trial master. In fact, he never won a non-time trial stage in any of his Tour de France victories. In 1992, he would win his second straight Tour de France, aided by the infamous Stage 9 time trial, where Indurain won by over three minutes, even though the stage was only 65 kilometers long! In the end, Pascal Lino couldn’t hold onto the yellow jersey, and surrendered it to Indurain in the 13th stage, who never lost it, finishing over 4 ½ minutes ahead of Italy’s Claudio Chiappucci. In the next three years, Indurain cemented his reputation as a legend in the making, as he continued to dominate the yearly Tour de France.
He would win each year by several minutes, helping his own cause by continuing to race brilliantly in individual time trials while working hard to maintain his leads in the other stages. In 1995, he held the yellow jersey for the last 13 of the race’s 19 stages. Unfortunately, in 1996 Indurain’s incredible run came to an end. He was slowed significantly by an onset of bronchitis that occurred after a cold and soggy first week of racing. He would finish at 11th, his worst finish since 1989, and although he still was one of the most gifted cyclists in the world, would retire in later that year as one of the greatest riders in the history of the Tour de France. Almost as impressive as his string of victories was Indurain’s reputation for being a kind and gracious competitor. With the media and other competitors, he was a quiet person who never let his success get to his head, even as he put together his unprecedented run of five straight Tour de France wins. He claimed to never feel superior to the other riders, despite the fact that he clearly was through much of his career. Not only was Indurain one of the most incredible talents to ever pedal a bicycle, but he always set an example of kindness and humility for fans, his countrymen, and fellow riders as well. PPPPP Word Count 551 .
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