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Luis Ocaña Photo Gallery

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Major wins | Teams | Photo gallery | Owen Mulholland wrote about Ocaña

Tour de France: the Inside Story

Luis Ocaña (born June 9, 1945) won both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. Had he not been so fragile and prone to misfortune his list of major wins would surely have been much longer.

He had the physical equipment to win stage races, being both a gifted climber (on good days he could drop Eddy Merckx) and time trialist. His wins in the 1971 Trofeo Barrachi two-man time trial and Grand Prix des Nations individual time trial are eloquent testimony to his ability against the clock.

In the 1971 Tour de France Ocaña was in extraordinary form and in the hilly eleventh stage he left Eddy Merckx almost nine minutes behind. Ocaña was in yellow with a big lead and probably needed only to finish the race to win the Tour de France. In stage 14 Ocaña crashed in the rain while descending the Mente, forcing him to abandon. From there, the race belonged to Merckx.

There wasn't a real rematch with Merckx in 1972 because Ocaña had to abandon the Tour with bronchitis. And in 1973, when Ocaña had refound his form, Merckx did not come to the Tour. Ocaña delivered a stunning ride in that Tour, winning the race by almost 16 minutes.

That was Ocaña's last Grand Tour victory. He injured himself in the Midi-Libre and was unable to ride the 1974 Tour France. There were no more big wins for the Spaniard and he retired in 1977 after a career that saw him win 110 races.

Upon retiring from racing, he devoted himself to his vineyard, which did poorly. Sick with cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis C and cancer as well being burdened with financial troubles from his vineyard, Luis Ocaña committed suicide in 1994.

Major victories and high placings:











Professional Teams:

1968 - 1969: Fagor
1970 - 1974: Bic
1975 - 1976: SuperSer
1977: Frisol-Thirion-Gazelle


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1968: Ocaña racing the GP Castrocaro Terme. Sirotti photo

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Roger Pingeon leads Ocaña in the 1970 Paris-Nice.

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1971 Bic promotional card.

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Luis Ocaña leads Cyrille Guimard in the 1971 Tour. Note the Cinelli Criterium bars and Campagnolo high-flange hubs. It was a time when bicycles were beautiful.

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Ocana graces the cover of a 1971 issue of Cyclisme.

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Ocaña's 1971 Tour de France is over after crashing on the rain-soaked Col de Menté

Col de Mente

Memorial to Luis Ocaña on the Col de Menté where he crashed descending in the rain in the 1971 Tour de France.

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Winning the 13th stage of the 1971 Tour de France

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Ocaña and Eddy Merckx (in yellow) in the 1971 Tour.

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1972 Bic promotional card

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Early in 1973, wearing the Spanish road champion's jersey

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Leading in the 8th stage of the 1973 Tour de France

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Descending in the 13th stage of the 1973 Tour de France

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Raymond Poulidor (left) and yellow-jersey'd Luis Ocaña at the 1973 Tour.

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Ocaña has won the 1973 Tour de France. On the far left is Joop Zoetemelk in the best young rider's white jersey. Bernard Thevenet is wearing a tricolor jersey and on the right is Herman van Springel in the green points jersey.

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Time trialing in 1976 up Puy de Dome. Photo: © John Pierce, PhotoSport International

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Racng in the 1976 Tour de France. René Milanese photo

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