44th Vuelta a Espana 1989


By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed Historian





Delgado and the Columbians

The 1989 Vuelta a Espana continued the growth of the race’s stature in the international racing community. 189 racers took the departure of La Coruna on April 24 1989. Four years after Spanish superstar Pedro Delgado won his second Vuelta, he returned in 1989 with great fitness.

The early stages were disrupted by numerous crashes as nervous racing marred the serenity of the race. The first major test came on the mountainous 197.6 km Stage 6 from Bejar to Avila. Columbian riders were very active attacking and counter-attacking and put two riders, Omar Hernandez (Col) and Martin Farfan (Col), in the day’s breakaway. Over the summit of the Col de Serranillos with 77 km to go the breakaway had a 5’15” lead on the Delgado group. The peloton’s chase led by Team BH’s Federico Echave managed to cut the time gap to 52” by the finish in Avila, but the 3 breakaway riders had stolen the stage. Dutchman Luc Suykerbuyk took the stage win with Columbian Omar Hernandez taking the Maillot Amarillo.

Delgado battled in a 5 rider breakaway group with 4 Colombians on the 11th stage, which finished on the climb to Estacion de Cerler. Delgado used a strong sprint over the summit to win the stage. Race leader Omar Hernandez, who had missed the breakaway, finished the stage 1’50” behind. He did retain his Maillot Amarillo.

Delgado winning the Stage 15 ITT

Delgado showed his great form with a stage win on the Stage 15 mountain time trial. Martin Farfan (Col) became the race leader, but he would return positive in the “doping control” test and lose his Maillot Amarillo to Delgado the following day.

Two stages later the pressure of the Maillot Amarillo put Delgado in trouble on the Lagos de Covadonga. Another Columbian climber Fabio Parra rode away from the race leader. Parra finished third on the stage and gained 59” on Delgado. Parra fell 2” seconds short of taking the race lead.

Delgado was the stage winner in the Stage 20 time trial and consolidated his hold on the Maillot Amarillo; but the race was not over.

Controversy emerged in the penultimate 188.6 km Stage 21 from Collado Villalba to Destilleras DYC.

Trailing by 52” in the General Classification, Parra launched an attack on race leader Delgado. Delgado’s Reynolds team was weakened after Miguel Indurain, victim of a broken wrist, did not take the start of the stage. When Delgado began to struggle and was losing time to Parra, Alfa-Lum’s Ivan Ivanov unselfishly went to the front of the chase group to help Delgado.

Parra’s time gap grew to 3’00”. Slowly the Ivanov led chase group started to close on the leaders. Parra finish the stage in third place +5” behind stage winner Alberto Camargo. Delgado saved his race lead and finished the stage +22” behind. Delgado lost only 17” to Parra.

SPECIAL NOTE: Before the final stage there was a rumor going around which said that Delgado had given an envelope to Ivanov in order to reward him for his unselfish help. The moment was recorded by the cameras. Delgado defended himself from the rumors saying that the envelope was just his address, since Ivanov was a very close friend.

Four years after his first victory in the Vuelta a Espana, Pedro Delgado crossed the finish line in Madrid for a second victory. In 1989 Delgado did have little troubles beating the Colombian Fabio Parra and a very talented Columbian group of climbers.

SPECIAL NOTE: Pedro Delgado had just won the 1988 Tour de France and became the best rider in the history of Spanish cycling.

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Stage 1 La Coruna, 20.1 km [Series]

Marnix Lameire (Bel)

Gino De Backer (Bel)

Stage 2 L Coruna-Santiago d'Compostella, 209.2 km

Joaquim Hernandez (Spa)

Benny Van Brabant (Bel)

Stage 3a Vigo-Vigo, 34.4 km TTT


Roland Leclerc (Fra)

Stage 3b Vigo-Orense, 101 km

Malcolm Elliott (GBr)

Roland Leclerc (Fra)

Stage 4 Orense-Ponferrada, 160.5 km

Roberto Pagnin (Ita)

Roland Leclerc (Fra)

Stage 5 La Baneza-Bejar, 247 km

Eddy Planckaert (Bel)

Roland Leclerc (Fra)

Stage 6 Bejar-Avila, 197.5 km

Luc Suykerbuyk (Bel)

Omar Hernandez (Col)

Stage 7 Avila-Toledo, 157 km

Massimo Ghirotto (Ita)

Omar Hernandez (Col)

Stage 8 Toldedo-Albacete, 235.5 km

Stefano Allocchio (Ita)

Omar Hernandez (Col)

Stage 9 Albacete-Gandia, 228.1 km

Raimund Dietzen (Ger)

Omar Hernandez (Col)

Stage 10 Gandia-Benicassim, 202.6 km

Herminio Diaz-Zabala (Spa)

Omar Hernandez (Col)

Stage 11 Vinaroz-Lerida, 179.8 km

Malcolm Elliott (GBr)

Omar Hernandez (Col)

Stage 12 Lerida-Estacion de Cerler, 186.5 km

Pedro Delgado (Spa)

Omar Hernandez (Col)

Stage 13 Benasque-Jaca, 160.8 km

Mathieu Hermans (Ned)

Omar Hernandez (Col)

Stage 14 Jaca-Zaragoza, 165.3 km

Mathieu Hermans (Ned)

Omar Hernandez (Col)

Stage 15 Ezcaray-Estacion Valdezcaray, 24 km ITT

Pedro Delgado (Spa)

Martin Farfan (Col)

Stage 16 Haro-Santona, 193.6 km

Peter Hilse (Ger)

Pedro Delgado (Spa)

Stage 17 Santona-Lagos de Covadonga, 228 km

Alvaro Pino (Spa)

Pedro Delgado (Spa)

Stage 18 Cangas de Onis-Branillin, 153.2 km

Ivan Ivanov (Rus)

Pedro Delgado (Spa)

Stage 19 Leon-Valladolid, 159.4 km

Mathieu Hermans (Ned)

Pedro Delgado (Spa)

Stage 20 Valladolid-Medina del Campo, 47.5 km ITT

Pedro Delgado (Spa)

Pedro Delgado (Spa)

Stage 21 Collado Villalba-Destilleras DYC, 188.6 km

Alberto Camargo (Col)

Pedro Delgado (Spa)

Stage 22 DYC-Madrid, 177 km

Jean-Pierre Heynderickx (Bel)

Pedro Delgado (Spa)

Oscar Vargas (Col)
Malcolm Elliott (GBr)

VaE April 24 - May 15, 1989
3,656.0 km

1. Pedro DELGADO (Spa) 93h01'47"

2. Fabio Parra (Col) +35"

3. Oscar Vargas (Col) +3'09"

Starters: 189
Finishers: 143
Average Speed: 39.309 km/h

VaE 1988

VaE 1990

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