Miguel Indurain sees the Vuelta as more than just a fight between Contador and Froome
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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Miguel Indurain sees the Vuelta as more than just a fight between Contador and Froome

by Ben Atkins at 9:08 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Five-time Tour winner eying the two favourites but expects others to challenge

miguel indurain

Miguel Indurain is predicting a hard fought contest for the general classification of this year’s Vuelta a España, which starts with a team time trial in his home city of Pamplona this evening. Like many, the five-time Tour de France winner sees the main battle as being between Tour de France runner-up Chris Froome (Team Sky) and the returning Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), but names a number of others that he expects to challenge in the three-week race.

“They’re both great riders,” he told esciclismo.com, “Froome is in very good shape, and Alberto is a winner.

“[Contador]’s coming from a break, so we’ll have to see how he goes, but to win a Grand Tour against the likes of Joaquim Rodríguez [Katusha], [Movistar’s Alejandro] Valverde, [Katusha’s Denis] Menchov or [Movistar’s defending champion Juanjo] Codo can be very difficult.”

Despite winning five Tours de France, and two Giri d’Italia, Indurain was never able to win his home Tour, with his second place of 1991 being the closest he came when the race was still held in the spring. Once he began winning his Tours and Giri, he didn’t returned to la Vuelta until 1996 - on the insistence of his team - but abandoned midway through the race.

With the race returning to his home region of Nacarra, close to the Basque country and the border with France, for the first time in 1994, Miguelón is looking forward to enjoying the race as a fan once more.

“Back in the old days I used to go to see [the race] when it came to Pamplona,” he explained. “I ran away from school to go and see the cyclists, and now I’ve returned to that a little, to enjoy the event. I became a rider, but the last time the race came here I didn’t ride.”

Indurain is one of a very short list of riders that have won the Giro and Tour in the same year, but - although he eschewed his local race in his most successful years - can’t quite explain why he never enjoyed success in la Vuelta.

“I fought hard,” he said. “I rode seven times and I tried. I think I’m still the youngest ever leader of la Vuelta.

“I never won a stage, I never won la Vuelta,” he added. “But I don’t think riding in April was very good for me. But I’m glad I rode it seven times and fought, but sometimes things get complicated and you can’t win everything.”

Indurain endured one of his worst days in the 1996 Tour de France on the day it finished in Pamplona, where he lost eight minutes to stage winner Laurent Dufaux and effectively any chance of taking a sixth straight victory. Understandably however, he is delighted to see la Vuelta return to his his home city for the first time in 18 years.


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