Aw man – Laurent Fignon passed away today.
Fignon was a truly iconic rider from the days when cycling wasn’t anywhere near the consciousness of most North Americans. To me, at 12 years old or so, Fignon was the embodiment of the mystery of the country of France and the continent of Europe. Decked out in these round, Lennon-style glasses and with his blond hair held back with a trademark sweatband, he was the dashing avatar of the romance and mythos of road racing. He was stoic and pensive on the bike, reserved and dignified off of it.
Nicknamed ‘The Professor’ within the PRO peloton, Fignon won the Tour twice, and will also always remain in the record books as the guy that lost it by the closest margin ever – 8 seconds to Lemond, in ’89.
His autobiography was just published in English and, ironically, I ordered it just a week ago, right around the 12th of August, which was Fignon’s 50th birthday.
In the book, there’s a quote:
“A true cyclist sometimes has to bite the dust before he can reach the stars. Win. Survive. Hang in there. It’s a race against oblivion, a race against time, a race against yourself: a career, a life. Can a man’s character be represented in the way he rides a bike?”
Fignon was pure class. RIP.