Friday, June 3, 2011

Miguel Indurain the first rider to win the Tour de France five times in a row

Miguel Indurain in the yellow leader's jersey 1993 Tour de France

Miguel Indurain won the Tour de France from 1991 to 1995, The fourth racer to win five times and the first to win five in a row. His nickname was "Big Mig" because of his ability and large physical size. Indurain was a fantastic time trialer and surprisingly great climber.

Indurian has an easy going demeanor and looked as relaxed on the bike as he did off of the bike. A team-mate, Jean-Francois Bernard said: "When he comes down for his meal, you don't even hear him move his chair." Indurain said the man that impressed him was Pope John Paul II, whom he gave a yellow jersey from the Tour de France and a pink jersey from the Giro d'Italia.

Miguel had a physiology superior to fellow athletes. His blood took seven litres of oxygen around his body per minute, compared to 3-4 litres for an ordinary person and 5-6 litres for fellow riders. His cardiac output is 50 litres a minute; a fit amateur cyclist's is about 25 litres, Indurain's lung capacity was 7.8 litres, compared to an average of 6 litres. His resting pulse was as low as 28 BPM. His VO2 max was 88 ml/kg/min; in comparison, Lance Armstrong's was 83.8 ml/kg/min and Greg Lemond's was more than 92 ml/kg/min.

Miguel Indurain was born on July 16th, 1964 in the village of Villava, Spain. His first bicycle was a green secondhand Olmo given to him for his 10th birthday. It was stolen when he was 11 and he worked in the fields with his father to pay for a new one. At 18 he was the youngest winner of the national amateur road championship. His hero in cycling was Bernard Hinault.

Indurain turned professional in 1984. During his professional career he would ride the Tour de France twelve times.

Notable Tour de France rides are listed below:

1988: He rode the Tour de France as a team mate of the winner Pedro Delgado.

1989: Indurain broke away in the ninth stage of the Tour and won the stage. He wore the mountain leaders polka dot jersey for the next stage.

1990: Finished 10th overall in the Tour de France.

1991: Miguel Indurain wins his first Tour de France.

1992: This year Miguel Indurain won both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia.

1993: Once again Indurain won the Tour de France as well as the Giro d'Italia.

1994: Not only did he win the Tour de France, but Indurain set a world hour record of 53.040 kilometres (32.96 miles), beating the time of Graeme Obree.

1995: Miguel Indurian wins the Tour de France for the 5th time in a row.

1996: Indurian's final ride of the Tour de France. Suffering from bronchitis from the early stages, he finished 11th over all. In the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, where professionals competed for the first time, Indurain won the gold medal in the individual time trial.

On January 1st, 1997 Miguel Indurain told 300 journalists and others at the El Toro Hotel in Pamplona that he would not race again. He read a 30-line statement and left without taking questions and began his retirement.

Miguel Indurain with 5 yellow jerseys hanging on the clothesline

Holding up five fingers for five tour victories in a row

Miguel Indurain climbing in the yellow jersey of the Tour de France leader

Cartoon of Miguel Indurain by David Brinton

In the video below Indurain has some strong competition in the Individual Time Trial stage of the 1995 Tour de France from Bjarne Riis.

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