Baguet was diagnosed with the disease in late 2014 after feeling severe abdominal pain on a bike ride. He was taken to hospital for surgery on an inflamed diverticulum, with doctors removing a piece of his intestine and later discovering a malignant tumour.
Six sessions of chemotherapy followed, and though it looked like his recovery was going well, Baguet acknowledged his life would never be the same. "I try to remain hopeful, I've always been a fighter. Yet I live with fear every day," he told Sporza at the time.
Those fears were ultimately borne out as the disease returned in 2016, and Baguet passed away at his home in Sint-Lievens-Houtem on Thursday morning.
Baguet’s career was a curious, two-part affair, parenthesized by four years working as a roofer.
He turned pro in 1991 with the Lotto team, and raced with the Vlaanderen 2002 team in 1996, but he was becoming disillusioned and hung up the wheels for the first time to work for his father-in-law.
He kept his fitness up, and made his comeback in 2000, again with the Lotto team, going on to enjoy the best years of his career. The crowning glory came in the 2001 Tour de France, where he won stage 17 to Montlucon from a three-man move that just escaped the clutches of the peloton.
Later that year he won the Druivenkoers Overijse and he also collected podiums in hilly one-day races such as the Amstel Gold Race and Trofeo Laigueglia. The other big success of his career came when he won the road race at the Belgian national championships in Saint-Hubert in 2005.
Baguet switched to Quick-Step, the other big Belgian team, in 2006, and retired for good at the end of the 2007 season.
Tributes from the world of cycling poured in on Thursday morning.
Sad feelings watching this: https://t.co/UurHXP3HoS RIP Serge Baguet, character man, good rider, good man.— Philippe Maertens (@philmaertens) February 9, 2017
If fighting doesn't help and you loose the unfair battle Serge Baguet, I bend my head, think at you, you're family, silence takes it over— Patrick Lefevere (@PatLefevere) February 9, 2017
RIP Serge Baguet - old teammate at Lotto. Our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.— Robbie McEwen (@mcewenrobbie) February 9, 2017
Sorry to hear of the passing of Serge Baguet. Great rider and lovely person. #RIP— Brian Smith (@BriSmithy) February 9, 2017