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eBay find: Vintage original Systeme U Laurent Fignon cycling cap

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The System U cap

(Image credit: eBay)
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The System U cap

(Image credit: eBay)
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The System U cap

(Image credit: eBay)
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The System U cap

(Image credit: eBay)
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The System U cap

(Image credit: eBay)
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The System U cap

(Image credit: eBay)

Our search of the internet for interesting finds has dug up this rare cycling cap from the Systeme U team, the French team that ran from 1986-88 and was the home of legendary two-time Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon.

This unique piece of cycling history can be yours for £30.00

The seller includes several photos of the cap, which appears to be in good - although showing some signs of its years - condition.

The white cap, adorned with the black-and-yellow logo of the French grocery store chain, is complemented by a nod to team sponsor Campagnolo.

The striking colours and logo radiating from the caps bill toward the top made it easy to pick out the team's riders when such caps were commonplace in the peloton before hardshell helmets became mandatory. Fignon, with his blonde hair and round metal-framed spectacles, cut a peculiar image that earned him the nickname 'The Professor'.

Fignon wasn't the only rider of note on Systeme U, however. Over its three-year run, the team, which was run by Cyrille Guimard, a legend in his own right, also included Charly Motet, Eric Boyer, Marc Madiot and Thierry Marie, among others.

Fignon was obviously the team's most notable rider. he had won the Tour in 1983 and 1984 while riding for the Renault-Elf team before a knee injury sidelined him in 1985, the year Bernard Hinault won his fifth Tour title. 

1989 Tour de France winner Greg LeMond talks to runner-up Laurent Fignon on the podium in Paris.

Greg Lemond and Laurent Fignon on the 1989 Tour de France podium (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Fignon returned to the Tour de France in 1986, but he fell ill and didn't start stage 13 as Lemond went on to win his first Tour. Fignon fell short again in 1987, finishing seventh, and once again abandoned in 1988. 

The following year looked to be the Frenchman's again, however, as he took the Tour lead on stage 17 and held it all the way into Paris for a time trial on the final day. he held a commanding 50-second lead over runner-up Lemond, who was making his own comeback from a gunshot wound he'd suffered in a hunting accident after his Tour win in 1986.

Things went terribly wrong for Fignon on that final 24.5km time trial, and Lemond beat him by 58 seconds to take the overall win by eight seconds. 

Fignon raced for four more seasons, but sixth in 1991 was the best finish he could manage at the Tour. Some say his upset loss to Lemond in 1989 had broken his spirit. Sadly, 'The professor' died of cancer in August of 2010.