1987 PDM. Podio in Le Tour

Pedro Delgado was an international cyclist more than ever by now. He was familiar with the spring classics of the Belgian calendar and dreamed of winning one of them one day.However his objectives were very clear, first the Tour and then the Vuelta.

The first few days passed by and some people felt that Perico’s aggressive way of riding in the previous editions was now MISSING (lacking), to whom he replied,«one has to be cautious to win this long race». The days went by and on the 10th stage he was already 4th overall.The next day was the legendary stage of the Lagos de Covadonga. This time the very hard climb was too much for him and he lost 3 minutes to the winner, Lucho Herrera from Colombia. He also lost ground to the overall favourite of the Vuelta, Sean Kelly from Ireland. He encountered many difficulties in the race and in the end, «I was 4th. It was a year where there were time bonuses to be gained every day and, thanks to this, Fignon was 3rd, otherwise I would have been». It was the golden age of Colombian cycling. When the road went uphill, the «beetles», as they are fondly called in cycling, would set a stifling pace, until they left everybody else behind. The victory of Lucho Herrera in the Vuelta of that year was the peak of this period.

On the way to Alto Campoo (st.10th) with Sean Kellly, Raymund Dietzen. Navacerrada mountain. Pedro attacks on a number of occasions, but Lucho Herrera responds every time.

The Tour came and Delgado, together with Lucho Herrera, Roche, Lemond, Fignon, Mottet, and others, were the great favourites. For the Segovian, things began quite well with a good prologue and a more than satisfactory team time trial which all produced more motivation in him than ever before. This was demonstrated by his 10th place in the Futurescope 80 km long time trial where he lost only 2’29» to Roche.

He was anxious for the Tour to reach the mountains, his legs were responding and his feelings in the race made him ambitious. He was 7th in Pau, 6th in Luz Ardiden and 3rd in the uphill time trial in Mont Ventoux. The following day, in Villar de Lans, he left the leader, Jeff Bernard, in the lurch to go on and win the stage and move up to 2nd in the overall, just behind Roche. His strength was still intact and he attacked again on the way to the Alpe d’Huez and only let the leader wear the yellow jersey for one more day. So, after many years of trying, he finally became leader of the Tour of France. He couldn’t or didn’t want to relax in yellow in the mirror as he knew the difference over Roche was small and he had to attack again in order to face the last time trial with a bigger advantage. «Against Roche in the time trial, I’ve got everything to lose, so I have to gain at least a minute or two to keep the jersey».

Pedro attacks in Villar de Lans in the 1987 Tour. Only Roche can follow him. New victory in the Tour.

So, on the way to La Plagne,«I risked it and attacked as soon as the mountain began so as to make him go under, it was all for all, or nothing. I was a minute and a bit ahead, but at 3 km to go, my strength began to fail and I nearly didn’t make it. In the end, I only gained 3″, not much after so much effort».

So he faced the last time trial with only 21″ over the Irish specialist and logic prevailed; he lost 1’1″, not bad, but … he was second at 40″ from Stephen Roche.

«I have never been so close to winning the Tour since 1983, now I know that one day I will be the winner»

Pedro plays double or quits on the climb to La Plagne. Tour 1987. Other protagonists of that edition Echave, Mottet, Lucho Herrera, Fignon ….