Delgado in Zaragoza at the 2004 Vuelta a España
|Full name||Pedro Delgado Robledo|
April 15, 1960 |
Segovia, Castile and León, Spain
|Height||1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|Weight||64 kg (141 lb; 10.1 st)|
|Rider type||Climbing specialist, 3-week competitions|
|Infobox last updated on
August 20, 2007
Pedro Delgado Robledo (pronounced: [ˈpeðɾo delˈɣaðo ɾoˈbleðo]; born April 15, 1960), also known as Perico ([peˈɾiko]), is a Spanish former professional road bicycle racer. He won the 1988 Tour de France, as well as the Vuelta a España in 1985 and 1989.
Delgado is 171 centimetres tall (5 ft 7-1/2 in) and used to weigh 64 kilograms (141 lb). He was a good climber, with an aggressive style, making cycling a spectacle, which gained him fans. On one hand, there were days when he was extremely successful attacking. On the other, he occasionally suffered from big losses of time due to mistakes or strokes of bad luck. He was also a good time-trialist until the nineties, when it became difficult for him to adapt to technical changes in the time-trial bicycles.
The ending of the 1987 Tour de France and the 1985 Vuelta a España and the whole 1989 Tour are among his more memorable participations in major competitions. Delgado tested positive for the known masking agent, probenecid, during the 1988 tour, was allowed to continue racing and was not charged with any doping offence.
He works now as a sports commentator for Televisión Española during important cycling events.
Delgado and the Tour de France
Delgado took part in the Tour de France eleven times. During his first participation, when he was 23, he rose to second place in the overall classification after the 17th stage, before falling back later in the event. From then on, Delgado was determined to achieve victory in this competition.
In 1983, the Reynolds team participated in the Tour for the first time. Delgado was a young rider, and Ángel Arroyo was the star of the team. That year the Tour had four individual time trials (ITT), plus the prologue, and six mountainous stages, so Delgado had enough opportunities to show his talent. After the 17th stage Delgado was second in the overall classification, 1´08" behind Laurent Fignon, another 23-year-old rider competing in the Tour for the first time. Unfortunately, Delgado drank a spoilt milk shake that caused him a stomach cramp during the next stage, ending in Morzine. He lost 25 minutes 34 seconds that day, and his first chance of winning the Tour. Delgado ended that Tour in 15th position, 25 minutes 44 seconds behind Fignon.
It was not the only setback he had in this race. On the contrary, in different years he suffered the fracture of a clavicle, the death of his mother during a stage, the communication of a "positive" result in a dope test that finally proved false (but after it was filtered to the media), gastroenteritis, and a tremendous mistake that led him to lose seven minutes in the first two days of the tour of 1989.
1987 Tour de France
Delgado fought an epic battle with Stephen Roche during the 1987 Tour de France, that was resolved in favour of Roche only in the penultimate stage, an ITT. The final difference was 40 seconds, at the time the second smallest difference ever recorded. Delgado was the third best time-trialist that year, but Roche was clearly the best, and both knew that. Roche told a nice anecdote about it twenty years after:
"We were on French TV after the descent into Morzine [the last mountain stage, and Delgado was still leader of the overall classification] and, off camera, he came up to me, hugged me, and said 'Bravo, you deserve the yellow jersey'." The TV people couldn't believe it! He's a fabulous competitor, but he's also a great, incredibly gallant guy and I think that's another reason why that Tour was so special."
1988 Tour de France
Delgado won the 1988 Tour de France by a comfortable margin. But the Tour was never easy for him. The evening after the 17th stage, the television channel "Antenne2" spread the news that Delgado had tested positive in a doping test. His team director José Miguel Echevarri was informed hours after by the Tour organization without mention of the substance. That night, Xavier Louy, director of the race, went to the hotel where Echavarri was and suggested to him that Delgado should withdraw. This was similar to the "Merckx affaire" in the 1969 Giro.
The following morning Echevarri received the official communication. The substance was probenecid, a medicine for the kidney and also a masking agent for anabolic steroids. In 1988, every sport had a different list of banned substances and the IOC had its own, although there was a commitment to unify the lists in 1990. Probenecid was in the IOC list, but not in the UCI list (it would be one month later!) and rule number 35 of the 1988 Tour regulations stated that the doping test would be carried out in accordance with the UCI rules. The mistake of the laboratory seemed evident and the technical jury declared that Delgado had not broken any (UCI) rule.
However, the Director of the Tour de France, Jean-Pierre Courcol, said "I now know that the letter can replace the spirit of the law and that the regulations can be played with, in order to give the appearance of utter innocence. Today, I am ashamed" and his deputy, Jean-Marie Leblanc, described it as a "dismal verdict". Other riders were also unhappy, with Andy Hampsten stating "Delgado took a drug to mask steroids. It's not on the banned list but it's a masking drug and that's what the commissaries should have acknowledged. I think it's a crime to let him wear the yellow jersey, a crime against the public and against the sport."
In 1988 the sanction for this type of doping was a penalty of 10 minutes, which was applied to Gert-Jan Theunisse during the same 1988 Tour de France; Delgado, having been cleared, received no such penalty. Delgado's final advantage over the second rider in the overall classification, Steven Rooks, was 7:13 minutes. Third, 9:58 behind, was Fabio Parra.
Delgado wore the "maillot jaune" for eleven days, and passed doping tests every day. There was no trace of probenecid nor steroids in any other test. He affirmed that he would always be grateful for the support received from the French public during those days.
Xavier Louy was replaced as Tour director months later.
1989 Tour de France
Delgado did not win the 1989 Tour de France, but it marked, perhaps, his most spectacular performance in the race. Showing up 2m 40s late for the prologue, Delgado covered the distance only 14 seconds slower than Erik Breukink, the stage winner. He became the only defending champion to begin the race in last place, 2:54 behind Breukink. As Delgado admitted later, that night he was very nervous and did not sleep. The following day there were two stages. Due to this he was very weak and suffered hypoglycemia in the second stage, a decisive team time-trial. That day he would have been dropped by his team had they not waited, and Delgado lost more time than in the previous stage, 4:32. After that second stage, Delgado was last in the overall classification, more than seven minutes behind the best-classified of the favourites, Laurent Fignon.
Delgado rode the rest of the race on the offensive. His reaction started in the 5th stage, a 73 km individual time-trial. He was second in the stage, 24 seconds behind an impressive Greg LeMond. In the first mountain stage, Delgado attacked during the last climb, gaining 29", but in the next stage Delgado, together with Robert Millar, finished 3:26 ahead of Fignon and 3:38 ahead of Lemond. Delgado was now 4th overall, 2:53 behind the leader, Fignon. After the 17th stage, finishing in Alpe d´Huez, final victory still seemed to be possible, Delgado was third overall, 1:55 behind Fignon and 1:29 behind Lemond. But Delgado, exhausted, was unable to make up all the time he had lost in the early stages, and the great final fight of that Tour had only two major figures: Laurent Fignon and the final winner, Greg Lemond.
- 1983: 15th overall
- 1984: did not finish
- 1985: 6th overall; winner stage 17
- 1986: did not finish; winner stage 12
- 1987: 2nd overall; 3rd points classification; 1st stage 19; 4 days in yellow jersey
- 1988: 1st overall; 3rd mountains classification; 11 days in yellow jersey; winner stage 13
- 1989: 3rd overall; 2nd mountains classification
- 1990: 4th overall
- 1991: 9th overall
- 1992: 6th overall
- 1993: 9th overall
- 1982: 29th overall
- 1983: 15th overall
- 1984: 4th overall
- 1985: 1st overall; 1 stage win
- 1986: 10th overall
- 1987: 10th overall
- 1989: 1st overall; 3 stage wins
- 1990: 2nd overall
- 1992: 3rd overall; 1 stage win
- 1993: 6th overall
- 1994: 3rd overall
- Other one-day races and stage races
Grand Tour general classification results timeline
WD = Withdrew
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