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_September 2005
 
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed
Historian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Top 25 All Time Tours #20

1994- Indurain Beat Back All Comers

CR Timeline 1994

Can anyone prevent 3 time defending Tour de France (TdF) champion Miguel Indurain from winning his fourth straight title? The corps international journalists were resigned to another Indurain domination and to follow a race with little suspense. However, nagging injuries and illness in 1994 plagued Indurain's early season. Young Russian Evgeni Berzin crushed his effort for a third straight victory in the Giro d'Italia . Could this be a crack in the great Spaniard's armor? Could Berzin repeat his performance in the Tour? All answers lay on the roads of France.

British rider Chris Boardman introduced his revolutionary new Lotus time trial bike for the prologue Time Trial in Lille. The Lotus was very light, aerodynamic, and extremely stiff. Boardman rode the 7.3 km prologue course at an average speed of 55.152 km/hour. The effort gave the sensational Brit the stage win and a new record average speed for a prologue. He became the first Brit in 32 year to wear the Maillot Jaune (race leader's Yellow Jersey).

The first major test of the 1994 Tour came on stage 9, the 64 km ITT from Perigueux to Bergerac. In the middle of a July heat wave, defending champion Miguel Indurain (Spa) demolished the field by averaging over 50 km/hr, beating his closest rival Tony Rominger (Sui) by 2 minutes. Indurain jumper into the race lead as t he Tour headed into the Pyrenees Mountains for two brutal stages.

The stage 12 finishing climb of the Lourdes/ Hautacam revealed the physical ailments of Tony Rominger. Indurain and Luc Leblanc (Fra) rode away from the peloton and gained another 2'19 on the struggling Swiss rider. Two days later the Tour enters this year's C ircle of Death (hardest day in the Pyrenees, where Tour hopes die). Stage 13 finished on the Hors Categorie (beyond category) climb of Luz-Ardidan. Struggling again Rominger finished 12 minutes behind stage winner Richard Virenque and more than 4 minutes behind overall leader Indurain. The 1994 campaign for Rominger came to an end during stage 13, as the Tour exited the Pyrenees and headed toward the Alps.

Several times in the storied history of the TdF, an unexpected solo rider accomplishes a glorious individual effort. A large framed Italian Eros Poli achieved such glory in 1994. The stage from Montpellier to Carpentras featured the ascent of the fabled Mont Ventoux. Poli broke away from the peloton very early on the stage and built a lead of over 20 minutes as the ominous Ventoux neared. The flatlander needed close to a 30-minute lead at the bottom of the climb to stand a chance of staying in front of the charging peloton.

The chase pack started the climb with a faster rhythm and a 22 minute deficit. Steadily the climbers began to eat into his lead. When Poli arrived at the final 300 meters, the slope became 11%. His lead had dwindled to 4 minutes but his lead had survived Mont Ventoux. Poli hammered the descent and rode into Carpentras with tears of joy in his eyes for a spectacular 3'39 stage win.

The Alpine stages began the next day. Through the Alps, Indurain let only none overall contenders climb away from the peloton for stage wins. After Roberto Conti (Ita) won the prestigious Alpe d'Huez stage, Piotr Ugrumov (Lat) started a three-stage tear through the overall classification. Trailing by 11'27 Ugrumov flew up all the Alpine climbs. He gained 2'37 at the top of the Val Thorens; he gained 2'39 after a solo breakaway into Cluses; and he gained another 3'16 at the top of the Col d'Avoriaz. Ugrumov had vaulted into second place overall, but the climbing stages were done. Only two flat stages remained before the finish in Paris. A calculated Indurain had survived the last challenge.

Miguel Indurain rode into Paris to claim his fourth straight Tour de France victory.

TdF 1994 Recap

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Prologue LILLE, 7.2 km ITT

Chris Boardman (GBr)

Chris Boardman (Gbr)

Stage 1 LILLE - ARMENTIERES, 234 km

Djam. Abdoujaparov (Uzb)

Chris Boardman (Gbr)

Stage 2 ROUBAIX - BOULOGNE SUR MER, 203 km

Jean-Paul Van Poppel (Ned)

Chris Boardman (Gbr)

Stage 4 DOVER (Gbr) - BRIGHTON (Gbr), 204 km

Francisco Cabello (Spa)

Flavio Vanzella (Ita)

Stage 5 PORTSMTH-PORTSMOUTH (Gbr), 187 km

Nicola Minali (Ita)

Flavio Vanzella (Ita)

Stage 6 CHERBOURG - RENNES, 270 km

Gianluca Bortolami (Ita)

Sean Yates (GBr)

Stage 7 RENNES - FUTUROSCOPE, 259 km

Jan Svorada (Cze)

Johan Museeuw (Bel)

Stage 8 POITIERS - TRELIZAC, 218 km

Bo Hamburger (Den)

Johan Museeuw (Bel)

Stage 9 PERIGUEUX - BERGERAC, 64 km ITT

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 10 BERGERAC - CAHORS, 160 km

Jacky Durand (Fra)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 11 CAHORS - LOURDES/Hautacam, 263 km

Luc Leblanc (Fra)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 12 LOURDES - LUZ ARDIDEN, 204 km

Richard Virenque (Fra)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 13 BAGNERES DE BIGORRE - ALBI, 223 km

Bjarne Riis (Den)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 14 CASTRES - MONTPELLIER, 202 km

Rolf Sorensen (Den)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 15 MONTPELLIER - CARPENTRAS, 231 km

Eros Poli (Ita)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 16 VALREAS - ALPE D'HUEZ, 224 km

Roberto Conti (Ita)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 17 BOURG D'OISANS - VAL THORENS, 149 km

Nelson Rodriguez (Col)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 18 MOUTIERS - CLUSES, 174 km

Piotr Ugrumov (Lat)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 19 CLUSES - MORZINE/Avoriaz, 47 km ITT

Piotr Ugrumov (Lat)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 20 MORZINE - LAC ST POINT, 208 km

Djam Abdoujaparov (Uzb)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Stage 21 DISNEYLAND PARIS - PARIS/Champs Elysees, 175 km

Eddy Seigneur (Fra)

Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Richard Virenque (Fra)

Djam. Abdujaparov, (Uzb)

TdF Champion: Miguel Indurain (Spa)

Starters: 189

Finishers: 117

Distance: 3,978 km

Average: 38.383 km/h

 

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