In praise of Le Prof

Last week I was in France when it was announce that Laurent Fignon, two time winner of Le Tour de France (1983, 1984) and France’s last genuine superstar pro bike rider, had died of cancer, aged 50. His first win was in his Tour debut, aged just 22. Fignon was also the man who came closest to winning the Tour, losing by a mere 8 seconds to Greg LeMond in 1989. I have nothing to add to what has been written about Fignon, including by himself in his excellent autobiography Nous ├ętions jeunes et insouciants (We were young and carefree).

However, on Saturday L’Equipe published a 27-page tribute to Le Professeur, and I want to repost one of the images, which shows Fignon’s Directeur Sportif and close friend Cyrille Guimard giving his rider a push after a puncture in Stage 7 of the 1983 Tour. It’s a charming picture. Just as you’ll not see any of today’s riders wearing Fignon’s trademark spectacles while racing I can’t quite imagine a DS in 2010 sporting a bare chest, jeans, clogs and aviator shades. Maybe the Tour would be a little more ‘rock and roll’ if a few of them did.


More Fignon photos from the L’Equipe archive are available here.