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Miguel Ángel Indurain Larraya (born 16 July 1964, Villavamarker, Navarremarker) is a retired Spanishmarker road racing cyclist. He is best known for winning the Tour de France from 1991 to 1995, becoming only the fourth person to win the event five times, and the first to win five in a row. Indurain's ability and physical size—1.88 m (6 ft 2 in) and 80 kg (176 lbs)—earned him the nickname "Miguelón" or "Big Mig".

Biography

Indurain (pronounced "In-dur-rine") 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 dropped out of the Tour in 1985 and 1986, his standing improved steadily until his first win in 1991. He rode in support of his team captain Pedro Delgado in the 1990 Tour, even though he might have been strong enough to win it himself. He won the event from 1991 to 1995, becoming the first to win five consecutive times (Jacques Anquetil was the first to win the event five times non-consecutively).

Indurain is often said to have been the best time trialist in the Grand Tour, 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: mountain stages to Cauteretsmarker (1989) and Luz Ardidenmarker (1990) in the Pyreneesmarker. He was often accused of not fighting hard enough for wins in mountain stages in which he arrived in the lead group, while others respected this as a sign of a gentleness and gratefulness to his rivals.

In 1992 and 1993, years in which he won the Tour, Indurain 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 Scotlandmarker's Graeme Obree. During the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, where professional cyclists were allowed to compete for the first time, Indurain won the gold medal in the individual time trial. He also won the Dauphiné Libéré in 1995 and 1996.

In the 1996 Tour, Indurain 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. Riis later admitted having used EPO to win, but is still considered by the Tour organisers as the overall winner, albeit with reservations.

Indurain finished 11th and, in a stage passing through his hometown and ending in Pamplonamarker, he finished 19th, eight minutes behind the stage winner. Later that year he abandoned the Vuelta a España, 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.

Even during the five years when he dominated the Tour, Indurain 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 compare him to an extraterrestrial or a robot. He was also known to be exceedingly generous with his teammates. In 1992 fans reported overhearing him say "Mi baño es tu baño" (My bath is your bath) after big stages concluded especially to fellow countryman and domestique extraordinaire, Pedro Delgado.

In retirement he is a member of the Spanish Olympic Committee and of UCI's Professional Cycling Council. He is also Honorary President of the Miguel Indurain Foundation. He often attends cyclotourist events such as L'Etape du Tour and the Cape Argus Pick & Pay Cycle Tour in Cape Town, South Africa.

Miguel Indurain during the XXI Criterium Ciutat de L'Hospitalet, in 1996.


Physical advantages

At the top of his career, Miguel Indurain had a physiology that was not only superior when compared to average people, but also when compared to his fellow athlete. His blood circulation had the ability to circulate 7 litres of oxygen around his body per minute, compared to the average amount of 3-4 litres for an ordinary person and the 5-6 litres for his fellow riders. His cardiac output is 50 litres a minute; a fit amateur cyclist's is about 25 litres a minute. Also, Indurain's lung capacity was 8 litres, compared to an average of 6 litres. In addition, Indurain's resting pulse was as low as 28 BPM, compared to a normal human's 60-100 bpm , which meant his heart would be less strained in the tough mountain stages. His VO2 max was 78 ml/kg/min; in comparison, Lance Armstrong's was 85 ml/kg/min and Greg LeMond's was over 92 ml/kg/min.

Career highlights

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


Giro d'Italia finishings
1992: 1st
1993: 1st
1994: 3rd


Vuelta a España finishings
1985: 84th
1986: 92nd
1987: Withdrew
1988: Withdrew
1989: Withdrew
1990: 7th
1991: 2nd
1996: Withdrew, 12th stage


Major results
World Time-Trial Championship (1995)
Summer Olympics Men's Individual Time Trial (1996)
Dauphiné Libéré (1995, 1996)
Paris-Nice (1989, 1990)
Clásica de San Sebastián (1990)
Critérium International (1989)
Grand prix du Midi Libre (1995)
Volta a Catalunya (1988, 1991, 1992)
Tour de l'Avenir (1986)


Accolades
French Légion d'honneur
Prince of Asturias Awards: Sports (1992)
Active member – Laureus World Sports Academy
1995 ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year


References

  1. Danish Cycle Union profile
  2. 1991-1995: Big Mig's masterclass, BBC, August 3, 2004
  3. Super, Sure, but Not More Than Human, NY Times, July 24, 2005
  4. Greg LeMond Professional Cycling's Talented Revolutionary, Bike Race Info, ,



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