Indurain said it was bittersweet that the Vuelta begins in Pamplona, where his hometown Villava is on the outskirts of the city made famous by Hemingway.
“This Vuelta is not a tribute to me, but to cycling in Navarra,” he said. “There is a lot of cycling tradition in this part of Spain and it will be beautiful to see the Vuelta pass so close to home.”
Despite winning two Giros and five straight Tours, Indurain never won the Vuelta. His best was second in 1991 and the Vuelta became his final race in 1996, when abandoned on the road to the Lagos de Covadonga climb. He never raced again.
“I gave away more victories than I won during my career,” Indurain said, who was famous for being a generous champion. “I could never win the Vuelta. I came close once with second, but the Tour became my major goal, so I never had the chance to really focus on the Vuelta.”
Indurain doesn’t like to dwell on his past and prefers the quiet life of a family man far from the media spotlight.
Indurain has three children and now does the things that most parents do, except that he has the luxury of not having to work. He picks up his kids each day at school and attends family functions as an everyday member of the community.
His oldest son, also named Miguel, just turned 16 and has recently picked up the bike. Indurain has also started to train again, going out on training rides with his son, but he insists he’s putting no pressure on Miguelín.
“I tell him to ride as long as he enjoys,” he said. “When he doesn’t, he can just give it up.”
Indurain is getting back into decent shape, good enough to put the hurt on others during group rides. Last summer, he participated in the 18th Marcha Cicloturista Pedro Delgado, that was dedicated to Indurain and the 20th anniversary of his first of five Tour victories.
Indurain rode at the front for nearly all of the elite men’s course, taking huge pulls, but eventually fading in the closing kilometers to finish 34th.