Professional cyclist Miguel Ángel Induráin Larraya was the first person to win the gruelling Tour de France bike race five times in a row, from 1991 to 1995; in this, he has been surpassed only by Lance Armstrong, who in 2005 took his seventh consecutive Tour victory before retiring. Unlike Armstrong, Induráin also won other grand tours: in 1992, he was first in the Giro d'Italia as well as the Tour de France, becoming one of only six men to win both in the same year, and he repeated the feat in 1993.

In spite of his winning ways, Induráin was unlike the five-time winners who came before him - Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx ("The Cannibal"), and Bernard Hinault ("The Badger") - in that he was not driven by anger or aggression. Rather, he was quiet and self-effacing, kind to his teammates and to other riders. But on the bike, he was enormously strong and talented. He wasn't the best climber - unsurprising, given his size (1.88m/6 ft 2 in and 80 kg/176lbs, hence the nickname "Big Mig") - but he was an excellent time trailist, and could hold the lead he gained in the time trials through the mountain stages. He rode beautifully and seemingly effortlessly, his face impassive, his massive legs churning, seldom rising out of his seat as he pedalled through the kilometres.

Induráin was born 1964 in Villava, a small village in Navarre province in the Basque region of northern Spain. He began cycling at a young age with the local bike club, where he shone; he won his second-ever race, receiving as his prize a sandwich and a drink. He became Spanish amateur champion in 1983 and competed at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984; the next year, he became professional, and dominated elite cycling through most of the nineties.

He began racing the Tour in 1985, abandoning that year and the next. He won Paris-Nice in 1989 and 1990, and the San Sebastian Classic in 1990, and even wore the winner's yellow jersey at the 1990 Tour, but held himself back in favour of his team captain, Pedro Delgado. The next year, though, there was no stopping him: he started his half-decade of domination at the Tour, surprising everyone by beating former three-time winner Greg LeMond. In 1993 he came second to a young Lance Armstrong in the World Championship race. In 1994, he set a world hour record of 53.040 km (32.96 miles); in 1995 and 1996 he won the Dauphiné Libéré. He had hoped to win the Tour in 1996, but was beaten at the Tour de France rather convincingly by Bjarne Riis. He then went on to win the individual time trial in the Olympics (it was the first time professionals were allowed to compete), after which he retired. He sits on the Spanish Olympic Committee and the professional cycling "union", UCI.

Two biographies of have been published (and translated into English) that I am aware of: biography, Miguel Induráin: A Life on Wheels by Pablo Muñoz, and Miguel Induráin: A Tempered Passion by Javier Garcia Sanchez; they give a much fuller account of the life of this great champion.

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