Former Tour de France champion Roger Pingeon dies at 76

The 1967 Tour de France champion Roger Pingeon has died at the age of 76. The former rider, who also won the overall classification at the Vuelta a Espana in 1969, passed away after suffering a heart attack at his home in Ain, France, according to the French media.

The mayor of Beaupont, Ain – where Pingeon has lived since the early 2000s - Georges Gouly told AFP that Pingeon had suffered a heart attack around 4 am on Sunday morning. "He was fine, I had seen him yesterday morning, he was a very humble person who had been able to integrate very well into the life of the village and especially to the community life, He celebrated the 50th anniversary of his victory, " said Gouly.

Pingeon was born in Hauteville-Lompnes in the French department of Ain on August 28, 1940, the fourth of five sons to a farming family. He discovered cycling in his teenage years and began his hunt to gain a racing licence at the age of 17. His first attempt was thwarted when during the prerequisite medical the doctor discovered a heart arrhythmia. Undeterred, he found another doctor who would issue him with the necessary medical certificate.

In 1965, Pingeon made the step to turn professional when he signed up for the Peugeot team led by Tom Simpson. In his second season, he showed his capabilities by finishing eighth overall at that year’s Tour de France, just over eight minutes behind the winner Lucien Aimar. The following year, the Tour reverted to national team selections, and Pingeon earned himself a spot on the French squad.

The 1967 race was marred by the death of his trade teammate Simpson on stage 13. Pingeon had all but had already set himself up for victory several days earlier after a long range attack to win stage 5 from Roubaix to Jambes. He would hold the yellow jersey through all but one of the remaining stages and rode into the Parc des Prince, the last time the Tour de France would finish there, with a 3:40 lead over Julio Jiménez.

Back pain hampered him throughout the subsequent season, but he would still take home two stage victories at the Tour de France and finish fifth overall. He would also come close to winning the French national road race title. 1969 saw him add the Vuelta a Espana title to his palmares after he beat home hope Luis Ocana by almost two minutes. Three months later he was on the podium again when he finished second in the GC at the Tour de France.

It would prove to be the last time he would step onto the podium at a Grand Tour, and he would eventually call an end to his career in 1974. Pingeon’s career was also marked by a suspension for doping after he returned a positive test for amphetamines during the 1970 Four Days of Dunkirk.

Following his cycling career, Pingeon worked as a pundit for French and then Swiss television.

Pingeon is the third former Tour de France champion to pass away in recent months after the deaths of Ferdi Kubler and Roger Walkowiak, in December and February respectively. 

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