By Greg Overton
Two time Tour de France, and Giro d’ Italia winner Laurent Fignon of France lost his battle with cancer on August 31, 2010 at the age of 50. Regarded as one of the best all around riders of his era, Fignon was a major figure alongside Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond in the early 80’s, and battled LeMond and Stephen Roche at the top of the sport in the late 80’s.
It was Fignon who famously finished second to LeMond in the 1989 Tour de France by the narrowest margin ever, 8 seconds, as Lemond came from 58 seconds behind in the final stage of the three week race. Many call this the greatest Tour ever. It was certainly one of the greatest of the modern era.
LeMond said of his former rival, “It’s a really sad day. I see him as one of the great riders who was hampered by injuries. He had a very, very big talent, much more than anyone recognized. For me he was one of the greater champions that was not recognized. He was more recognized for his loss in the Tour de France than for his two victories. We were teammates, competitors, but also friends. He was a great person; one of the few that I find was really true to himself. He didn’t have an ego…”
Fignon announced in 2009 that he was battling cancer in his digestive tract, and had begun chemotherapy and other treatments. He worked as a commentator for French television for the 2010 Tour de France in July, even though he had nearly lost his voice at that point.
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