The Professor

He won the Tour de France twice, ‘Le Professeur’.
The first time was in 1983, when the most important rider of his team,
Bernard Hinault, could not participate because of an injury.
In 1984 he won the Tour again and on top of that,
he also won five stages during that edition of the biggest race in France.
He could have won the Tour de France again in 1989.
Only eight seconds was the time gap between him and Greg LeMond.
From then on people would always ask him if he was
that guy who lost the Tour de France by eight seconds.
”No,” he would say, “I’m the guy who won it twice.”
Laurent Patrick Fignon.
He passed away at the age of fifty on the 31st of August
last year after having lost his long battle with cancer.
This year the ASO and L’Équipe decided to honour him.
Before the start of the last stage of the Tour de France of 2011,
a memorial was unveiled in Créteil, where Fignon started off his career.
He used to play soccer first, until his friends encouraged him to start cycling.
His parents did not want him to become a professional bike rider,
so he decided not to tell them and secretly start riding races.
When his parents found out about it, they allowed him
to continue if only he would go and study at university.
He did that for a while, but it was not a good combination.
However, he was one of the few riders that passed his baccalaureat exams.
Besides that he also wore glasses, which is why they called him ‘The Professor’.
In 1982 he was asked to join the Renault-Elf-Gitane team.
Not only did he then manage to win the Tour de France twice,
he also won the Giro d’Italia and the spring classics
Milano-Sanremo and La Flèche Wallonne during his career.
He decided to retire as a professional cyclist at the end of 1993.
 In June 2009 his autobiography ‘We Were Young and Carefree’ came out.
Fignon then openly admitted that he had used banned drugs in the past.
During the last years of his life, Fignon was still keen on following cycling.
He organized races and kept a close eye on French cycling.
Even though he was already very ill, he continued being a commentator.
 Last year he even received a special Combativity Prize during the Tour.
Bernard Hinault joined him on stage to honour his former colleague.
The riders in the Tour had to face a tough battle,
but the ASO knew that Fignon’s battle with cancer was tougher.
Only a few months later Laurent Fignon lost his fight
and the cycling world had to face the loss of another champion.


Tour de France 2010 – © Sirotti

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