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Indurain: Spain’s low-profile hero

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Jan. 19, 2012
  • Updated Jan. 20, 2012 at 12:01 PM EDT
Indurain was the center of attention during last week's presentation of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana. Photo: Andrew Hood

PAMPLONA, Spain (VN) — The biggest attraction last week at the Vuelta a España presentation wasn’t a half dozen Spanish stars or even the route itself; it was the presence of Miguel Indurain.

Now 47, the five-time winner of the Tour de France has become a relative recluse since retiring at the end of the 1996 season. Indurain drew bigger crowds than any of the day’s current stars.

Journalists and officials pushed in around Indurain moments following the presentation, leaving the likes of Denis Menchov standing uncomfortably alone and unnoticed.

“The good thing about the passing of time is to keep counting it,” Indurain joked about his post-racing lifestyle.

Indurain says he doesn’t miss much from his racing days and prefers to stay hidden away with his family than search out the spotlight that he never fully embraced when he became a Spanish national hero in the 1990s.

“Cycling’s changed in the sense that it’s more international and there are more global sponsors, but the racing hasn’t changed at all,” Indurain said. “I still follow the sport. I still love to watch the racing.”

On the mountainous Vuelta route, with 10 uphill finales in 21 stages and only one time trial, Indurain admitted a rider of his characteristics will not be winning.

“It would have been impossible for me to win this Vuelta — too many summit finishes and not enough time trials,” Indurain said of the 2012 Vuelta route. “But this is the kind of route the fans want, and the climbing specialists will have a great chance to win the race.”

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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