20 years ago the " patrone " of cycling was Miguel Indurain. He seemed indestructible. He had won the last three grand tours he had taken part in ( Tour de France 91 and 92 and giro 92 , with the first double since Hinault in 1985).
The 1993 edition of the giro had a strange route. Not a very mountainous one but only one flat time trial ( a short one) and a very long and difficult time trial from Pinerolo to Sestriere. One real mountain stage to Corvara, after crossing Costalunga, Pordoi, Fedaia, Pordoi again ( cima Coppi) and Campolongo. So the stage of Oropa at the end of the giro was in appearance an insignificant stage.
It was supposed to be a Giro with a fight between Indirain and the Italian riders, such as Chioccioli, Bugno, Chiapucci and Fondriest, but surprisingly a Russian rider ( from Latvia), Piotre Ugrumov menaced Indurain´s crown.
Indurain took the pink jersey after the time trial of Senigallia, but lost it due to a breakaway to Leali and recovered it the day of Corvara, in a stage that Claudio Chiapucci won , with Indurain second. Bugno and Chioccioli were out of contention, Fondriest had fighted well but lost time, and Ugrumov had only lost 20 seconds.
|Foto Antonio Sevillano|
There were only three contenders now. Chiapucci, Ugrumov and Indurain, and there were two difficult stages left. The time trial to Sestriere and the summit finish at Oropa.
Chiapucci was hoping to threaten Indurain in Sestriere as he had done in the Tour in 1992, but unfortuantely for him he was suffering the flu and had a very bad day, with the Mecair Ballan riders, Argentin and Ugrumov the only ones that were close to the leader Indurain, especially Ugrumov, who lost less than a minute and was only 1'34" ahead of the leader.
Indurain won the stage with a great time, but he had spent a big amount of energy, and Oropa would be decisive.
Chiapucci was now third with just a few seconds to Lelli, the Italian had lost the giro and his position in the podium was not save.
Indurain was going to win another Giro, and all was prepared to celebrate the victory, but the Mecair Ballan team didn´t agree, and they put a very high tempo in the stage of Oropa. There was a breakaway with not important riders that were going to fight for the stage, but the real drama was behind. Argentin forced the tempo and Ugrumov attacked in some ocassions
Ugrumov kept trying in the steepest gradients of Oropa, Indurain on his wheel. The climb was hard but the pink jersey was resisting the rythm of Ugrumov.
Good news for Stephen Roche too, that was doing a good giro and was again with the favourites.
|Photo Antonio Sevillano|
Indurain resisted, but it was being a tough climb.
And finally Indurain exploited. There were 5 kilometers left and Ugrumov had done the impossible. He had dropped the invencible, he had left the Spanish machine, and now he was trying to reach the glory of the giro ...
Riders were passing Indurain who seemed in trouble ( later he would confess that he was taking it easy in order not to exploit), Echavarry , his manager, was very nervous, and there were no references, the only true thing was that Indurain didn´t have Ugrumov and the others in sight.
It was a tense moment but there was no distance left to lose the 1'34", and Indurain was suffering but not struggling ...
Finally Ghirotto won the stage , surprising climbers such as Giovanetti, Madouas, and Rondon, while Indurain lost only 36" to Ugrumov. Chiapucci had won the fight for the third position to Lelli too and Indurain had saved the pink jersey. However but he had shown that he was human.
He was the first rider to win the Giro two years in a row since Merckx.
People in Spain had suffered with " Big Mig", a strange feeling, but that gave more value to the victory, and was the first step for the second consecutive double Giro-Tour, and even for the Triple Crown.
Later that year Indurain won the Tour of France, suffering in the Pyrenees with Rominger, and nearly won the Worlds in Oslo, being second to a young American, Lance Armstrong.
Time passes, but Indurain is still on the minds of tifosi, he was a smart rider and he is still loved there. But that day, the 11th of June 1993, the shadow of a defeat flew the Giro for him, a defeat that woul come in a year, because of two young riders, Eugevny Berzin and Marco Pantani ...