Laurent Fignon, nicknamed "the Professor" for his trademark round wire rimmed glasses and scholarly appearance, died today after a long struggle with cancer. Fignon is seen here in yellow, with Greg LeMond, during the 1989 Tour de France. Recall that was the year where in the final time trial, Fignon lost the Tour to Lemond by that legendary 8 seconds after having started the day with a 50 second lead. That year the race was so close the jersey was never clear on which of the two combantants it wanted to live with.
Like many of us Yanks, I recall Laurent in the context of following Greg's rising star. That was not terribly fair to Fignon, a fine racer in his own right, winning the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984, the Giro (1989) and seventy six professional races in all.
Fignon gave the Grim Reaper a good run for his money as well, but that is one race we all eventually lose. Bon voyage, Professor.
Good piece by John Wilkonson here.
Photo and links courtesy of the New York Times and Velonews.com