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Miguel Indurain: An exclusive chance to ride with a legend

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Miguel Indurain. Miguelon. Big Mig. Eighty kilos and 1.88m of power and class, a rider blessed not only with intelligence but with the patience needed to make the most of it. A reticent champion, who could still carry a look of timidity while savaging the peloton. A symbol of the new democratic Spain, its youth and its potential, its eagerness to be a part of Europe and the wider world. The first – the only, now – man to win five consecutive Tours de France.

As a professional cyclist, Indurain was many things. And there were some things he was not. The Spaniard was never flashy, and what few critics he had confused that with a lack of panache. The thing is, you don’t need to be ostentatious when you’re the complete package. Miguelon could devour mountains and tear up time trials. On the flat, ascending, descending, in a group, on his own; it didn’t matter. He could – and usually did – win every which way. He was rarely flamboyant, but he was never fearful, either.

Greg LeMond’s back-to-back victories in 1989 and ’90 were big news in the English-speaking world, but in Spain all they only mattered in the context of Indurain. Had he not been riding for Pedro Delgado, the ’88 maillot jaune, could he have beaten the American? Had Spain’s beloved Perico – an anachronistic rider that lived to attack, to entertain and surprise and who often lost because of it – got in the way?

They’d get their answer the next year. Promoted to leader, Indurain showed the world just what he was capable of. Stage 13 from Jaca to Val-Louron included an ascent of the Tourmalet. LeMond had escaped at the bottom of the climb, but Indurain soon overcame gravity and his opponent’s enormous talent to real the American in and leave him behind with ferocious aplomb. After the summit, LeMond used his descending skills to close the gap, but when the road tilted skyward again on the Col d’Aspin, Indurain twisted the knife and increased his lead. Then, upon hearing that the dogged Italian Claudio Chiappucci was in pursuit, he waited. Two heads are better than one against the wind, after all. The pair rallied to the finish, where El Diablo took the stage and Miguelon donned the yellow jersey. It would be his for the next four years.

Writing at the time, the French newspaper L’Equipe documented the move with typical style:

Everything turned around up there, amid the infernal noise of klaxons and helicopters, in that incomporable cacophony of the maddest moments of the Tour de France. Everything was sewn up there, on the last 500 metres of the Tourmalet, on this thread of narrow road, in the midst of the fists and the arms, those thousands of faces deformed by excitement. There were 500 metres and Greg Lemond was hunched savagely on his saddle. He got up. He sat down again. Got up again. He couldn’t pedal any harder. It wasn’t a pretty thing to watch, Lemond, in those moments… “

Watching LeMond, himself a great champion, suffer might not have been pretty, but seeing Indurain take control of the Tour de France was a captivating sight. It set the tone for half a decade. Like a force of nature, like a tidal wave in yellow, he swept up all before him. He won five Tours in a row, at one point wearing the leader’s jersey for an incredible 60 days running. He also won the Giro d’Italia twice – two rare Giro-Tour doubles that would, even had he won nothing else, make him a colossus in the sport. He beat Graeme Obree’s Hour Record. He was time-trial champion at the ’95 Worlds, and added a gold medal to his palmarès in the same discipline at the ’96 Olympics.

Indurain was a rider blessed with tack-sharp acumen and an abundance of race craft, full of time trialling prowess and climbing style, an almost inexhaustible talent, hidden behind a crooked smile and a shy demeanour, even under the brightest and hottest of spotlights. It will be a long time before we see his like again.

Miguel-Indurain

As part of our partnership with Pinarello and Hotel La Perla, inGamba is offering an exclusive opportunity to ride with Miguel Indurain this summer, surrounded by the splendour of the Dolomites. 

The package Includes:

  • Miguel Indurain (5-time Tour de France Winner) led daily ride
  • Pinarello Dogma F8 bike with Shimano Di2 and Zipp wheels*
  • A professional mechanic to fine tune and wash your bike daily
  • Team car support on rides with mechanic
  • Professional cycling soigneur for post ride massages*
  • Daily prepared ride food including energy drinks, bars and gels
  • Garmin 810 with pre-downloaded routes or files for your GPS*
  • Pocket size ride map with daily ride and elevation profile
  • Recovery drink and light lunch upon return to Pinarello Dogma lounge
  • A Giordana FR-C Cycling kit with jersey and bib shorts
  • Daily wash & fold service for your riding kit

You can find out more about this unforgettable experience here. 

Guest opinion: What makes inGamba special

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Mark Bibbey is an inGamba regular. He lives in Chandler, Arizona, his adopted home of 20 years after growing up in Wyoming. He has been riding bicycles all his life, but developed a real obsession for the sport in the last 10 years. He enjoys riding many disciplines involving tire widths ranging 23c to 3.8in, on any and all surfaces. And luckily for him, his job as an airline pilot allows many opportunities to ride in varied locales.

“An inGamba trip is more than just a nice bicycle ride in a pretty location,” says Mark, who finds his inspiration for riding in the fact that he can enjoy the world around him at a slightly slower pace than an automobile or an airplane.

 

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“The experience is greater than the sum of its parts. When I think of inGamba, I think about camaraderie, and having as much fun off the bike as on. The real joy of these trips is when your abs are sore from laughing your ass off at the dinner table.

“It’s also fun to keep tabs on your new friends via social media and Strava, and every so often catch up to reminisce on that shared suffering, the shared celebration of life, just hammering, cursing, drinking, eating, laughing. I choose inGamba because of the people: the staff, the hosts, and the guests.”

Every guest’s feedback is invaluable, but hearing positive things from a familiar face – someone who’s seen us in action more than once, and is still impressed – means the world to us. And as Mark’s a veteran of several Donkey Week and L’Eroica trips with us, he knows a thing or two about the inGamba way. You can find him on Twitter @mbibbey, and on Instagram @markbibbey. And hopefully, some of you will find him on another inGamba trip sometime soon.

 

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Singing in the rain

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Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. It’s a cliché, but as hackneyed phrases go it’s a pretty useful one to remember as a cyclist. This sport is hard on the best of days, but cold winds and hard rain can make it insufferable. Even a little drizzle can turn a fun spin into a misery march if you leave the house in the wrong kit.

That’s why pros have rain bags. Neat little black receptacles that are labelled for each rider and stacked like bricks in the back of the mechanic’s car. They can carry shoe covers, gloves, arm and leg warmers, hats, different glasses, a gilet, a raincoat – all the precious things you could want when you crest that hill and see dark clouds looming large on the horizon. They also have a space for spare shoes, something that every veteran of the peloton will tell you that you’d rather have and not need than need and not have.

 

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Being properly equipped for anything that the elements can throw at you makes a huge difference. It can be the difference between enjoying your ride and just hanging in until home. Sometimes, it can be the difference between making it to the line and surrendering to a DNF.

 

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Everyone at inGamba likes to think that we do a pretty good job at providing the best possible cycling experience for our guests, but we can’t control the weather (not yet, anyway). What we can control is that our riders are prepared for any forecast. Our partners Scicon provide everyone with their own personalised rainbag, and once it’s in the back of the support car, all you need to do is raise your hand and let the mechanic know what you need. Assuming you’ve packed right, that little black bag will come to be a huge source of confidence. And when you feel those first drops hit, you can just smile and know that you’re ready for anything that the road can throw at you.

 

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“When watching rainy races on television—and before the drops are visible on camera—you’ll see a small cadre of riders quickly slip to the back of the peloton to collect appropriate attire for their teammates. Each rider will radio to their team cars the clothing request—a jacket, arm warmers or cycling cap—and the mechanic will dig through each riders’ bag for the clothing. After the subsequent handoff, the rider will pedal into the cold or wet weather coming from all sides to get back to the peloton.”

Ted King, pro rider for Cannondale-Garmin & friend of inGamba

 

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inGamba by numbers: what’s involved in an unforgettable week of riding

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It’s impossible to quantify the inGamba experience. The escapades, friendships and flavours of a week with us all combine to form the kind of memories that you can’t measure or put a number on. Those kinds of treasures are priceless.

 

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But, we can give you some quick figures to whet the appetite. A trip such as our Portugal Randonée is a logistical challenge and creating an unforgettable vacation for our guests requires careful planning and a lot of hard work. It also needs some crucial ingredients: unique hotels, unforgettable restaurants and most importantly, fast riders who know how to have fun. Once all those components are in place, we have a recipe for adventure.

Here’s what went into our recent Donkey Week season opener.

Tour de France stage winners: 1

Castles slept in: 3

Support vehicles: 6

Rides: 7

Tubulars changed: 10

Massages given: 160

Longest ride: 206km

Bottles of wine drank: 230

Bike washes: 325

Distance ridden: 1,010km

Total elevation gain: 12,000m

Sound like fun? Yeah, we thought so. Check out our calendar to see where we’ll be this summer.

 

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