In 1983, aged 22, Laurent Fignon won the Tour de France in his first attempt at the race, making him the youngest winner in 50 years.
He remains the last rider to win the Tour de France at their first attempt.
He is one of three riders (Contador and Ullrich are the others) to have won the white (best young rider) and yellow (overall) in the same year.
In 1984, Fignon won the Tour de France again, this time beating Bernard Hinault. At 23 he was a double champion in cycling’s most prestigious event.
There is much more that I could try to add but that record alone should stand as testimony to the greatness of Fignon in cycling’s pantheon.
Le Monde has probably the best obituary that I have read: Laurent Fignon est mort.
It truly does justice to the achievements of the last truly great rider to emerge from France.
Paris Match’s obit features a clip of Fignon from this year’s Tour and portrays well the humanity of the man: Laurent Fignon. La mort d’un grand champion
I feel lucky to have listened to his voice one last time this summer when I was over for the Etape. As a co-commentator and analyst he was without peer for the accuracy of insight and the intelligence of the information he conveyed to the audience.
If you haven’t already done so, you should read his autobiography which I consider one of the best books about cycling I’ve read.
Photo: Nord Eclair