RIP Le Professeur, 1960-2010

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It’s a sad day for cycling as Laurent Fignon passes away at the young age of 50. This news that I woke up to stopped me in my tracks. Nothing else in cycling seems important today.

My first memory of the Tour de France  was in 1989 – one of the greatest tours in history. It was only a news clipping on CBC but Fignon’s battle with Lemond on the Champs d’Elise was dramatic enough to draw even this 16yr old Canadian teenager’s attention.

Unfortunately Fignon’s name was stamped in history as being the guy who lost the tour by 8 seconds. However, my favorite quote in his autobiography sums him up so well:

“Ah, I remember you, you’re the guy who lost the Tour by eight seconds.”
Fignon : “No monsieur, I’m the guy who won it twice.

Laurent Fignon should be remembered for more than his 1989 TdF. He also won Criterium International in his first season as a pro in 1982, the TdF in 1983 (at 22 yrs old), TdF in 1984, Fleche-Wallone in ’86, Milan San Remo in ’88 and ’89. That’s only skimming the surface. He embodied the term “panache” and was known for being the one who even attack while in yellow. Legend.

My final memory of Laurent Fignon was watching this past TdF on television 21yrs later.  His failing voice while commentating on French TV caught my attention. It only took me a few seconds before it dawned on me who this voice behind the mic was. It sent shivers up my spin because you could hear the toll that the cancer had taken on him. For those of you who have seen first-hand what this horrible disease does to someone I’m sure you can relate.

Rest in peace Laurent Fignon. You’ve given us some incredible memories and you will be remembered.