Jose Manuel Fuente

Fuente (on the left) with Luis Ocana.

The news came in on the afternoon of July 18, just as the Tour de France peloton was leaving Spain. Fuente had died after a long struggle with kidney disease which stretched back to 1975, when it led him to retire from cycle racing. Aged 51, Fuente had had a kidney transplant in May and the surgeons initially reported good progress. A week later, though, he began to develop acute pancreatitis and things went downhill after July 5 when he had a heart attack. He then had a new operation and his spleen was removed. L'Equipe's report suggests he died at home not in hospital, but "chez lui" may just mean that he died in his home city of Oviedo in the Asturias region of Spain. May he rest in peace.

Like his father and grandfather, Fuente carried the nickname "El Tarangu", which in the Asturian dialect apparently means a man reputed for his strength and character. He turned pro in 1970, riding (I think!) for Kas all his career and won the Vuelta a Espana in 1971 and then again in 1974. In his first Tour de France he won two mountain stages, that finishing at Luchon (the day Luis Ocana crashed on the col de Mente and Eddy Merckx refused to wear the yellow jersey the next day) and the time trial at Super-Bagneres the next day. His best Tour finish position was third in 1973, when Ocana won with Bernard Thevenet second. In the 1972 Giro d'Italia he won the stage to Majella, taking the maglia rosa from Merckx. He was in pink again in 1974, but on both occasions succumbed to Merckx, finishing 2nd overall in 1972 and 5th in 1974. Apart from his Vuelta wins, overall stage race victories included the 1973 Tour de Suisse

After retirement Fuente opened a successful cycle business in Oviedo and in 1988 was appointed directeur sportif of the Clas team. This lasted only a year -- he was replaced in 1989 by Juan Fernadez.