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Laurent Fignon remembered

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Laurent Fignon leads eventual winner Greg LeMond at the 1989 Tour de France.

Laurent Fignon leads eventual winner Greg LeMond at the 1989 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon in yellow at the 1984 Tour de France, en route to his second straight Tour victory.

Laurent Fignon in yellow at the 1984 Tour de France, en route to his second straight Tour victory.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon hoists his trophy aloft for winning the 1989 Giro d'Italia.

Laurent Fignon hoists his trophy aloft for winning the 1989 Giro d'Italia.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon in yellow and on the attack at the Tour de France.

Laurent Fignon in yellow and on the attack at the Tour de France.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Laurent Fignon and Greg LeMond on the final podium in Paris at the 1989 Tour de France.

Laurent Fignon and Greg LeMond on the final podium in Paris at the 1989 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon and Bernard Hinault at the 2010 Tour de France.

Laurent Fignon and Bernard Hinault at the 2010 Tour de France.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Laurent Fignon is moments away from finishing the 1989 Tour de France's final day time trial in Paris and surrendering the yellow jersey.

Laurent Fignon is moments away from finishing the 1989 Tour de France's final day time trial in Paris and surrendering the yellow jersey.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon in his Tour de France debut in 1983.

Laurent Fignon in his Tour de France debut in 1983.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon at the 2000 Paris-Nice, which he organized.

Laurent Fignon at the 2000 Paris-Nice, which he organized.
(Image credit: AFP)
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The 1989 Tour de France podium (l-r): Laurent Fignon, Greg LeMond and Pedro Delgado.

The 1989 Tour de France podium (l-r): Laurent Fignon, Greg LeMond and Pedro Delgado.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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1989 Tour de France winner Greg LeMond talks to runner-up Laurent Fignon on the podium in Paris.

1989 Tour de France winner Greg LeMond talks to runner-up Laurent Fignon on the podium in Paris.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Dutchman Dutch Gert-Jan Theunisse leads Laurent Fignon, Greg LeMond and Pedro Delgado in a break at the 1989 Tour de France.

Dutchman Dutch Gert-Jan Theunisse leads Laurent Fignon, Greg LeMond and Pedro Delgado in a break at the 1989 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon in yellow following his victory in stage 19 of the 1989 Tour de France.

Laurent Fignon in yellow following his victory in stage 19 of the 1989 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon has just lost the 1989 Tour de France by eight seconds at the conclusion of the final day's time trial.

Laurent Fignon has just lost the 1989 Tour de France by eight seconds at the conclusion of the final day's time trial.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon leads former teammate Bernard Hinault in the 1984 Tour de France.

Laurent Fignon leads former teammate Bernard Hinault in the 1984 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon with Cyrille Guimard at the start of stage 16 of the 1983 Tour de France.

Laurent Fignon with Cyrille Guimard at the start of stage 16 of the 1983 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon on the podium in Paris following his victory at the 1983 Tour de France.

Laurent Fignon on the podium in Paris following his victory at the 1983 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon celebrates his victory in stage 20 of the 1983 Tour de France.

Laurent Fignon celebrates his victory in stage 20 of the 1983 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon awaits the start of his final professional race in Plouay, France on August 24, 1993.

Laurent Fignon awaits the start of his final professional race in Plouay, France on August 24, 1993.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Teammates Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon at the 1983 Tour de France.

Teammates Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon at the 1983 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Laurent Fignon in the pink jersey at the 1984 Giro d'Italia. The Frenchman would finish second overall to Francesco Moser.

Laurent Fignon in the pink jersey at the 1984 Giro d'Italia. The Frenchman would finish second overall to Francesco Moser.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Stephen Roche chats with Laurent Fignon prior to the start of stage 17 at the 1989 Giro d'Italia.

Stephen Roche chats with Laurent Fignon prior to the start of stage 17 at the 1989 Giro d'Italia.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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1989 Giro d'Italia winner Laurent Fignon.

1989 Giro d'Italia winner Laurent Fignon.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon on stage with Gianni Bugno after stage 21 of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.

Laurent Fignon on stage with Gianni Bugno after stage 21 of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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1989 Giro d'Italia winner Laurent Fignon with his trophy.

1989 Giro d'Italia winner Laurent Fignon with his trophy.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon celebrates the only Giro d'Italia win of his career in 1989.

Laurent Fignon celebrates the only Giro d'Italia win of his career in 1989.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon stands next to Francesco Moser at the conclusion of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.

Laurent Fignon stands next to Francesco Moser at the conclusion of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon ascends Mont Ventoux in the 1987 Tour de France.

Laurent Fignon ascends Mont Ventoux in the 1987 Tour de France.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Andy Hampsten and Laurent Fignon sign in for the 1989 Tour of Lombardy.

Andy Hampsten and Laurent Fignon sign in for the 1989 Tour of Lombardy.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon is kitted up and ready to race at the 1989 Tour of Lombardy.

Laurent Fignon is kitted up and ready to race at the 1989 Tour of Lombardy.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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World champion Maurizio Fondriest shakes hands with race leader Laurent Fignon at the 1989 Giro d'Italia.

World champion Maurizio Fondriest shakes hands with race leader Laurent Fignon at the 1989 Giro d'Italia.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon uncorks the bubbly after stage 14 of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.

Laurent Fignon uncorks the bubbly after stage 14 of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon in action during stage 13 of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.

Laurent Fignon in action during stage 13 of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon solos to victory at the 1989 Milan-San Remo, his second consecutive win.

Laurent Fignon solos to victory at the 1989 Milan-San Remo, his second consecutive win.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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A grimy Laurent Fignon heads to the podium after winning the 1989 Milan-San Remo.

A grimy Laurent Fignon heads to the podium after winning the 1989 Milan-San Remo.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon on the podium after winning the 1989 Milan-San Remo.

Laurent Fignon on the podium after winning the 1989 Milan-San Remo.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon has just won his first Milan-San Remo in 1988.

Laurent Fignon has just won his first Milan-San Remo in 1988.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon in action at the 1990 Paris-Roubaix.

Laurent Fignon in action at the 1990 Paris-Roubaix.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon heads to the team presentation at the start of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.

Laurent Fignon heads to the team presentation at the start of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon after stage 9 of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.

Laurent Fignon after stage 9 of the 1989 Giro d'Italia.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon powers to the finish of the stage 10 time trial in the 1989 Giro d'Italia.

Laurent Fignon powers to the finish of the stage 10 time trial in the 1989 Giro d'Italia.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Laurent Fignon at the start of a time trial stage in the 1986 Tirreno-Adriatico.

Laurent Fignon at the start of a time trial stage in the 1986 Tirreno-Adriatico.
(Image credit: Sirotti)

Laurent Fignon stood out in the peloton during his 12-year career because of his distinctive round glasses, long ponytail and impulsive character.

He was nick-named the professor but was one of the classiest riders in the sport and one of the true greats of French cycling. He raced with panache, often throwing caution to the wind and making surprise, audacious attacks. However he had the ability to back up his aggression and won both Grand Tours and major classics.

Fignon turned pro in 1982 with the Renault-Elf-Gitane team after being spotted by former rider and legendary team manager, Cyrille Guimard. He won the Criterium International in his debut season and then stunned the cycling world by winning the Tour de France in 1983. It was his first ever Tour de France and he was just 22.

He then repeated the victory in 1984, winning five stages along the way. In 1984 he also finished second overall in the Giro d'Italia, winning one stage and the mountains jersey. He also won the French national title that year. He also won Milan-San Remo in 1988 and 1989 and Fleche-Wallonne in 1986.

The 1989 Tour de France

Of course, Fignon will always be remembered for how he dramatically lost the 1989 Tour de France to Greg LeMond in the final time trial stage to Paris.

He started the stage with a 50 second lead but LeMond won the time trial by 58 seconds to snatch his second of three career Tour wins.

LeMond rode the time trial wearing an aerodynamic helmet and used aerobars. Fignon wore no helmet and his ponytail flapped on his back as he fought to hang onto the yellow jersey. He was also suffering from saddle sores, which he later claimed were the reason for his defeat.

Fignon was never the same rider after his traumatic defeat and was also dogged by injury. He withdrew from the 1990 Tour, but went on to finish sixth in 1991, and 23rd overall in 1992, taking his ninth and last Tour de France stage win in Mulhouse.

His last victory was at the early-season Ruta Mexico in 1993, while riding for the Italian Gatorade team. Fignon admitted he did not have the motivation to continue his career and retired. He initially turned to race management, taking over Paris-Nice, until ASO bought the race. He later opened a training centre in the Pyrenees.

Always outspoken but with huge ability to understand bike races like few others, Fignon made a perfect television commentator. Just like during his racing career, he was never afraid to speak his mind and criticise riders and teams.

He suffered with fatigue during this year’s Tour de France and his voice was affected by his cancer and treatment but he continued to commentate on the race, perhaps knowing it would be his last ever Tour de France.