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BIOGRAPHY - beginnings
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Beginnings

Beginnings

The family album

Pedro Delgado was born on 15th April 1960 in the town of Segovia (Spain). He was the third child of Victorina and Julio, his parents. His sisters and brother are called Marisa, Victoria and Julio. In his early years Perico had many health problems, he was a sickly child and, according to his family, he was"not much to look at physically". "I remember my Mother used to come to my bedside to bring me fruit juice and when I drank it, she would say loving words to me to help me get better soon". When he was 12 and after having spent three months in bed with hepatitis, suddenly his health improved and a new stage in his life began.

"I always liked playing sport a lot and played both at school and in the neighbourhood where most of our free time was spent on sport activities. We would play anything, basketball, football, tennis against a wall, go running....";.

He went to the Santa Eulalia and Calvo Sotelo primary schools and later to the Andrés Laguna Grammar School, all of which were in Segovia. He was an average student. He would usually pass everything, although curiously he especially disliked French. At the beginning he combined his studies with his cycling training.

My first pedal-strokes

There is no history of cycling or sport in Pedro's family. His first memory of a bicycle was from his neighbourhood. When he was 9 or 10, a neighbour and friend called José used to lend his bike to everyone. "In those days, hardly any kids from Pío XII (his neighbourhood) had bikes. Very gradually the parents began to buy bicycles for their children and in the summers the children would go on their bicycles to bathe in the river or on bicycle trips to the outskirts of Segovia". "As I didn't have a bike, I used to stay alone at home". .

"I got my first bicycle when I helped my brother Julio (much more determined than me) on his paper round for the local paper (El Adelantado de Segovia). After saving for three months, I convinced him to buy our first bicycle. It was an Orbea (the brand that in later years formed a professional cycling team in which I rode in 1985 and won the Tour of Spain) that was blue and was actually a girls' bicycle as they were called then because it didn't have a top tube . It cost us 3,000 pts". "But I wanted a racing bike and after saving for a few more months, I was able to buy my first racing bike which cost me 5,000 pts. It was made of iron but it was marvellous".

The cycling world beckons

Pedro had a friend at school called Frutos Arenal who competed in cycling races and sometimes. Pedro would visit his house to see the trophies and medals which he had won, as well as his racing bike. "It was a fabulous bike and weighed nothing next to mine". Pedro sometimes joined Frutos when he went training and his friend persuaded him to apply for a licence in order to take part in races. So in the Autumn of 1974 Pedro took part in his first cycling race dressed in athletics shorts, a t-shirt and trainers and riding his iron bike. It was the Provincial Championship of Segovia."As there weren't very many taking part, all the categories rode together. I don't know whether I was third or fourth of my category as we were all mixed up". From then on he joined the Segovia Cycling Club and never looked back. The following year he became a cadet rider and began to participate regularly in races.

The cadet rider

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After so many difficult moments, he wins his first sporting event - at long last! The first occasion he crosses the finishing line in first place.

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His first win, his first trophy, the first applause he hears as a winner...

This was in 1975 and Pedro was beginning his long journey of cycling. In this year he took part in twelve races and won on two occasions. The first victory did not lack one peculiar anecdote. "Some weekends, competitions were held in the Segovia industrial estate and we went round it more or fewer times according to the categories - Infants (12 & 13 years old) or Cadets (14& 15 years old). In turn each group used a gear limited to their category (as still happens today) and you couldn't use a bigger gear than the established one. During the race I managed to break away. With only one and a half laps to go, my bike broke - (the sprocket got stuck in the back wheel). I was so frustrated, just as I was about to win my first race I couldn't believe this was happening to me. The spectators were parents and riders of other categories.
As it happened, there was a rider from Infants with his bicycle just where my bike broke down. I went up to him and begged him to lend me his bike. He said "yes, take it, take it" (everybody knows everybody in Segovia). So I took his bike. I was so nervous (my opponents were catching up) that I broke the pedal strap when I pressed it. I pedalled like mad, thinking they would catch me up and that I'd lose the race. My gears were lower than my opponents as I had changed bikes and this one was an Infants' one. When I crossed the finish line with my arms up I couldn't believe I had won"
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In the Autumn and once again in the Provincial Championships of Segovia, one of the so called "good" juvenile teams came to take part. In actual fact they had really come to see for themselves, the rider who supposedly raced so well and who they had heard about from different sources. It was the Moliner team from Valladolid. Pedro wasn't actually able to beat them, but he rode so well that after the race, the directeur sportif, Ramón Chamorro Moliner, came to speak to Pedro and offered him to sign up with the Moliner team for the following season.

His father, Julio, agreed so long as Pedro did well in his studies.

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1976, his first team, Moliner, where he started to mature as a cyclist.

The Junior Rider (1976-1978)

"The Moliner team was a serious team, well formed and had good riders for its category. It brought me into immediate contact with the cream of national cycling". He began to ride all over Spain and became well known in cycling circles and especially feared when it came to riding uphill. The team scored victories in at least thirty races in this category.

In the middle of the season of 1978, Pedro decided to become an amateur, as his level was now above the junior category and he wanted new rivals.

""When you go up a category, winning a race becomes much more difficult and nobody gives anything away". He had become impatient, tired of the same rivals, some of whom were habitual wheelsuckers.

Pedro the Amateur Cyclist (1978-1981)

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His first important international victory, in the toughest stage of the Tour de L'Avenir, 1979.

In that Tour de L'Avenir, Pedro Delgado shows everyone - especially the Russians, who dominated the event - just how much quality he has as a climber.

His debut in this category was certainly done in style. In his second race, the Tour of Lérida, he nearly won it and came second. He then went on to score a row of victories in his first year as an amateur.

With these credentials, he continued to form part of the core members of the Spanish National Team. In September 1979 he took part in the Tour De L'Avenir and won the toughest stage against the most powerful and domineering team of the times, the Russians. This was where Pedro confirmed his status as one of the best climbers in the cycling world.

At the end of the year and at the age of 19, he had three offers to make the break to professional cycling. However, both his obligations to carry out his military service in Spain and to carry on with his studies, cautioned him to postpone making the break and accepting the offers. He had always considered competition cycling a hobby and not as an end in itself and even though everyone told him he was good and was champion material, he was very calm about the whole thing. He was having a great time travelling around Spain and France, gaining victory upon victory and making new friends. The idea of becoming professional attracted him, but he lost no sleep over it. Both he and his parents considered his cycling a bit of an adventure but neither believed he would ever earn a living from it.

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Racing with the Spanish national team, in the GP William Tell in Switzerland in 1980.

There were tough moments in this period. He remembers a particular moment during the amateur Giro when they "rode like the devil" against a cross-wind and he had to make an enormous effort not to get dropped from the peloton. "Riding as close to the kerb as possible, we went up more and more steep slopes and my legs could hardly make it any more. You're at a moment when you either give up or just hang on in there a bit more. Riding next to me was my team-mate from the Spanish National Team, Angel Camarillo (we were both studying at the time; he was doing Economics and I was in my last year at school). We looked at each other and during a small lull in the race we both realised we were in exactly the same state of mind. 'I can't carry on, cycling is not made for me. When I get home I'll study like mad and leave cycling to the others'"

"Sometimes it rains, sometimes it's cold or you feel ill, you have a really depressing day, fed up with the hardship and you feel like saying 'enough is enough'. But when you get to the hotel, you shower, you put clean clothes on and get your daily massage ... not only the outside of you changes but also the inside. Then it doesn't seem like you've had such a bad day .... and then you go on the next day and the next."

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He rode 12 races during his military service in Tenerife, and he won all of them.


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Thanks to a period of leave during his military service, Perico signed for Reynolds as an amateur.

Pedro was then called up to do his military service in Tenerife. There, although he didn't have much time for training, he joined the Jhon Haig team and won all the races he took part in. In June he returned to the peninsula and with the Reynolds amateur team he scored new victories. He began to regain the form he had had the year before with the Spanish National Team, but it was difficult for him to keep up the competitive level necessary to win races.

Then came the moment of truth, the dream of all budding cyclists; to become a professional, to ride with the cream, maybe even to take part in the Tour of Spain or the Tour of France. With two offers to choose from, he decided to continue in the Reynolds Team this time with the professional squad.