The 1990s are the Miguel Indurain era in the Tour de France. He entered the race for the first time in 1985 and entered it eleven more consecutive times. His ratings steadily improved and he eventually won for the first time in 1990. He went on to win each year thereafter until 1995. He became the first person to win this race five consecutive times. In 1996, Indurain made a valiant effort but a week of cold, damp riding lead to a case of bronchitis and Bjarne Riis won.
It's been said that Indurain is the best time trialist. He would make hugh gains and he didn't do badly when it came to mountain times either. He had an astounding career, holding a World Record in 1994 and claiming gold in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Indurain was built to win. He had an exceptional physique. For example, his resting heart rate was only 29 bpm when an average person's is 60-80 bpm. This slow heart rate meant that it didn't have to work so hard during long, arduous mountain climbs.
Indurain's fantastic tour came to an end in 1996 at the hands of Denmark's Bjarne Riis. The mountains got the better of him. He retired as possibly the greatest Tour rider ever.
The 1996 Tour had a surprising, notable abandon, Lance Armstrong. He said he wanted to prepare instead for the Olympics in Atlanta. It was during that fall that he was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had metastasized all over his body. As prove of his superior physique, he returned to racing after aggressive chemotherapy. Bjarne Riis wins the Tour.
In 1997, Riis wants a second win. Near the end of the race he begins to weaken from exhaustion. On the contrary, Ullrich is stronger than ever. During the race, Riis becomes furious, throwing his bike to the ground.
In 1998, the Tour begins in Dublin, Ireland. Ullrich is a well-rounded rider who could do anything. However he begins to fall apart. He couldn't find the right way to practice. He actually stayed in bed indulging in chocolate. Ullrich would then pull it together in order to train. He would go out and train too hard for his lapsed form and then get sick again. Despite this, he wins the Tour.
Doping is a big problem in the Tour. Riders who had never tested positive now were. A group of Festina riders confess to doping. The police knew they were up against formidable opponents. Riders were crying foul and as a group, they maintained a code of silence. After all, doping had been going on from the very beginning of the Tour. Rider took drugs back then to mask their pain, help them sleep and boost their performance.
In 1999, Lance Armstrong was back, as a gaunt, lean athlete. He trained with such focus and this would be his best weapon against Ullrich. Even Armstrong had been tainted by the doping scandals. He tested positive for corticosteroid but was cleared when it was discovered the tiny traces of steroids came from skin cream he was using. Armstrong dominates the race.