Cycling remembers “Chava” Jiménez 20 years after his death

Spain and the world of cycling miss José María “Chava” Jiménez even 20 years after his death. A heart attack ended his life one of the great figures of Spanish cycling of the late 90s and early 2000s and considered by many to be one of the best climbers in history, on December 6, 2003.

The “Chava”, who as a young boy wanted to be a bullfighter and was given this nickname because his family was known as “the Chabacanos” in El Barraco, his hometown in Ávila. (Although Chava himself asked to be spelled with a V), he ultimately chose the bike thanks to the Víctor Sastre cycling schoolFather of the 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, married to Piedad, the sister of “Chava”.

At the age of 21, “Chava” Jiménez made the leap into the Banesto structurewhere he managed to win the Montañés Circuit as an amateur before making the leap to the professional world and conquering the climb to Urkiola and the stage in the demanding climb to Moncalvillo in 1994, as well as the overall classification of the Vuelta a La Rioja.

These successes meant the leap to stardom for a “Chava” who took part in the historic Duitama World Cup in 1995, where he finished thirteenth after the historic double of Abraham Olano and Miguel Indurain. and that in 1997, wearing the colors of the Spanish champion, he managed to achieve eighth place overall in the Tour de France and the first of nine stage victories that he would achieve at the Vuelta a España upon arrival in Los Angeles de San Rafael, besides He won the first of the four mountain classifications he would achieve in the Spanish round.

The fight with Olano in the Vuelta del 98 and his exhibition at the Angliru

It would be in La Vuelta where “Chava” would cement his legend in cycling after conquering Mont Ventoux in the Dauphiné, as he demonstrated in the 1998 edition conquered the peaks of the Xorret del Catì (where he visited as leader), the Pal Station, Cerler and the Lagunas de Neila to reach the final time trial in Fuenlabrada as leaderwhere Jiménez lost La Vuelta to his teammate Abraham Olano in a return marked by the controversy between the two, with Karmele Zubillaga, Olano’s wife, as the protagonist after criticizing “Chava’s” attacks in the race. Jiménez finished third overall and took the mountain jersey title again.

A year later, in 1999, “Chava” showed his love for the Spanish circuit by becoming the first king of l’Angliru after defeating Pavel Tonkov and Roberto Heras, In addition, he received prize money of one million pesetas from AS for the first ascent of the Asturian colossus and finished fifth overall with his second mountain classification.

In 2000, the “Chava” took overall victory at the Volta a Catalunya, having won the Els Cortals stage and the La Rabassa time trial, and almost won the Courchevel stage of the Tour, where he finished second to Marco Pantani becamealthough he had to retire in the eighth stage of the Vuelta.

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A Vuelta in which he would successfully rehabilitate himself a year later three stage victories on the summits of the Alto de la Cruz de la Demanda, in Pal and in the Ordino time trial to receive the mountain and uniformity jersey of the 2001 edition.

1997. Chava is named Spanish road cycling champion in the city of Melilla.
Tour de France 1998. José María Jiménez together with Miguel Induráin.
Vuelta a España 1998. José María Jiménez is surrounded by young fans before he starts.
Giro d'Italia 1999, eighth stage.  Chava took second place in the Gran Saso promotion after Marco Pantani.
Vuelta a España 1999, eighth stage.  León - Alto de l'Angliru.  Chava wins the first ascent of one of the hardest passes known.  The price was one million old pesetas.
Vuelta a España 1999, eighth stage.  León - Alto de l'Angliru.  Chava wins the first ascent of one of the hardest passes known.
El Chava with his brother-in-law Carlos Sastre at the Vuelta España 2001.
Vuelta a España 2001. Chava won the regularity jersey.
2006. In his hometown of El Barraco (Ávila), a street and a sculpture named after José María Jiménez “El Chava” are inaugurated.
2006. In his hometown of El Barraco (Ávila), a street and a sculpture named after José María Jiménez “El Chava” are inaugurated.
2006. In his hometown of El Barraco (Ávila), a street and a sculpture named after José María Jiménez “El Chava” are inaugurated.
2009. The José María Jiménez “El Chava” monument is inaugurated.

20 years have passed since the death of “Chava” Jiménez

1997. Chava is named Spanish road cycling champion in the city of Melilla.

Photo:EFE

Tour de France 1998. José María Jiménez together with Miguel Induráin.

Vuelta a España 1998. José María Jiménez is surrounded by young fans before he starts.

Giro d’Italia 1999, eighth stage. Chava took second place in the Gran Saso promotion after Marco Pantani.

Photo:EFE

Vuelta a España 1999, eighth stage. León – Alto de l’Angliru. Chava wins the first ascent of one of the hardest passes known. The price was one million old pesetas.

Vuelta a España 1999, eighth stage. León – Alto de l’Angliru. Chava wins the first ascent of one of the hardest passes known.

Photo:ELOY ALONSOAS A DIARY

El Chava with his brother-in-law Carlos Sastre at the Vuelta España 2001.

Photo:JESUS ​​RUBIOAS A DIARY

Vuelta a España 2001. Chava won the regularity jersey.

Photo:JESUS ​​RUBIOAS A DIARY

2006. In his hometown of El Barraco (Ávila), a street and a sculpture named after José María Jiménez “El Chava” are inaugurated.

Photo:MACARIO MUÑOZAS A DIARY

2006. In his hometown of El Barraco (Ávila), a street and a sculpture named after José María Jiménez “El Chava” are inaugurated.

Photo:MACARIO MUÑOZAS A DIARY

2006. In his hometown of El Barraco (Ávila), a street and a sculpture named after José María Jiménez “El Chava” are inaugurated.

Photo:MACARIO MUÑOZAS A DIARY

2009. The José María Jiménez “El Chava” monument is inaugurated.

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The fall of “Chava” into hell and the beginning of the myth

From then on, the flirtations began with the “Chava” night and this circumstance affected his preparation on the bike, leading to him announcing his retirement before the start of the 2002 season.

No longer able to shine on the bike, “Chava” fell into an episode of depression and even think about suicide and which led to him being admitted to the San Miguel Clinic in Madrid, where on the fateful December 6, 2003, a heart attack suddenly ended the life of “Chava” Jiménez.

A “Chava” Jiménez, who was also a columnist for AS and talked about his experiences on the train between 1996 and 2000, He tells first-hand what the Tour de France was like as a runner. A “Chava” who expressed his philosophy of life with a phrase that defines him perfectly. “Me, all or nothing. If I can’t win, I don’t even care.. What he deserved was the affection of a cycling world that kept his character alive 20 years later.

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