1988 Reynolds. His Giro debut and winner of Le Tour
Pedro Delgado returned to Spain, to the Reynolds team where he had started out as a professional. It had been 14 years since a Spaniard had last won the Tour of France and both the Spanish cycling world and his fans dreamed of the victory of the Segovian. When he decided that year to ride the Giro he was sharply criticised for not taking part in the Vuelta. «I have ridden 6 Vueltas and now it’s time to try the Giro. Roche rode it last year and won the Tour and so had Hinault (’82 & ’85) and Eddy Merckx (’70, ’72 & ’74), so why can’t I try? Besides I would be riding with a lot less pressure from the media and followers, as after making the podium last year, I was the centre of attention in all the races in Spain»..
He didn’t perform as well as he had expected in his first Tour of Italy. On the 6th stage and in the rain his legs did not respond and he lost a couple of minutes to the favourites. He expected to regain the time lost in the Dolomites or the Alps but the weather conditions were so adverse, especially on the Gavia stage (14th) that just to finish the stages was a success. The anecdote of that terrible stage was the Dutchman, Van der Velde, who reached the summit first with a couple of minutes advantage over the rest. He then went on to lose more than half an hour on the descent (20-km) to the winner, his countryman, Breukink. The winner in the end was the American, Andy Hampsten and Delgado came 7th. The memory of that Dantesque stage of cold and snow would remain in the minds of the cyclists, media and fans forever more. «»I’m not exaggerating, I spent more than half an hour in a hot shower trying to get rid of the shivers. That day, the worst thing wasn’t the ascent, even though half the mountain pass wasn’t tarred and it had up to 12 and 14% gradients. The snow and the rain formed a terrible mixture of slush and mud and the worst thing was the descent. I was frozen stiff and shivering terribly and at times it was difficult keep my balance on the bicycle. Some cyclists got off their bikes and ran uphill to get warm and you would nearly bump into them. It was like a nightmare and you didn’t know whether you were awake or dreaming».
|The snow and cold on the Gavia stage, was a decisive factor in the 1988 Giro.
|In his first Giro (1988), he could not shine like he had done in other major stage races.
His team was rather nervous when it came to the Tour of France as it hadn’t had much success up until then in the season and it was laying all its bets on the Tour. After a first week of rain, his team (7th) and himself (12th), weren’t doing so badly at all. He was only 4″ behind Bernard, the favourite for the Tour and well positioned with respect to other years. He was only 1′ 55″ behind the leader.
First came the Alps and Perico was once again the leader when they crossed Alpe d’Huez (like 1987). «It was the 12th stage and, with the help of my team mates, we inflicted as much punishment as we could on the leading group. First with Indurain on the descent from the Col de la Madelaine and then with Omar Hernández who imposed a stifling pace on the Glandon ascent. Then finally I attacked and the only rider who could follow me was Steven Rooks who, curiously enough, had been my right-hand man the previous two years in PDM. The stage win went to the Dutchman and the yellow jersey went to Pedro.
|Climbing Alpe D’Huez. Pedro takes the «maillot jaune» in the 1988 Tour.
|Indurain working for his team-mate and leader in this Tour.
Once again a black cloud loomed on the horizon in the Tour. After winning the Villard de Lans uphill time trial the next day where he had practically won the race, a terrible mistake made by the Tour’s anti-doping control medical team nearly made him abandon the race. The organisation of the Tour de France was sharply criticised and Pedro’s morale was completely shattered.
«The dream which began the first time I took part in 1983, had finally come true. Up there high on the podium, when I listened to the Spanish national anthem in the Champs Elyses in Paris, it was like being in a dream, a dream that was coming true. It was a wonderful moment that I shall never forget».
The season was not yet over and he rode in quite a few more races. Worthy of note was his performance in the Tour of Catalunya where his collaboration was vital to the win of his young rider and team-mate, Miguel Indurain, the apple of Echavarri’s eye.
|París, final podium. Tour 1988.
| A photo-souvenir of the entire Reynolds team, before starting the final stage of the 1988 Tour.
Left to right: Lafargue, Lukin, Herminio, Pujol, Gorospe,Omar, Dominique, Magro, yo, Echavarri, Indurain, Iza y Vidales.