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Miguel Indurain won his five Tours based largely on his ability to time trial efficiently.
Gives thumbs up to pavé stage, but says route is too mountainous
There may be a stage in the 2014 Tour de France route that pays homage to Miguel Indurain's famous time trial victory in Bergerac exactly two decades previously, but the five-times Tour winner has nonetheless criticised the route - and those of other recent Grand Tours - as being overly favourable to the climbers.
Speaking to the Spanish newspaper AS, Indurain said that “recently they [grand Tour organisers] have gone in for summit finishes, with five that would be more that enough.”
“What’s more, if you put the time trial just one day before the finish, you’re really weighting things in favour of the climbers, because by that point in a race, it really comes down to brute strength, even if the specialists [time triallists] still have a bit of an advantage.”
“Cycling is more than just that [mountainous stages with summit finishes]: transition stages, hilly stages, stages coming after descents, although I like the idea of a stage with pavé.”
Stage five’s 15 kilometres of pavé will be equally dangerous for all the peloton, Indurain argues, “because if you fall off or have a crash that day, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a climber or an allrounder.” As Indurain pointed out, he knows what he is talking about: there were cobbled stages in his time in the Tour, most memorably on a stage in the 1992 Tour en route to Brussels where Indurain lost 82 seconds to Claudio Chiappucci and Greg LeMond.
For all his misgivings, Indurain says he believes he could still have won a Tour like 2014’s, telling AS ‘Why not? Some routes suit you better, others worse, but finally you adapt to it.”
His memories of the 1994 Tour's 64 kilometer individual time trial from Bergerac to Perigeux, which Indurain won at an average speed of more than 50kmh, was that “it was in a very different position in the Tour, just before the Pyrenees, and it was very hard with some nasty little climbs.”
“Above all I remember it was very hot. I got a lot of time on my rivals and then I finished them off at [the summit finish of] Hautacam.” - which the Tour 2014 will also tackle, although as Indurain points out “it’s not so strange that one stage start or finish is the same as in my day, because I did so many...” - every year, in fact, from 1985 to 1996 .