Laurent Fignon, the two-time Tour de France champion, has been diagnosed with aggressive intestinal cancer. He is now undergoing chemotherapy for the cancer, which has metasticized, not a good sign. We wish him all the best for his recovery.
The “Professor” of pro cycling, Laurent Fignon provided us some grand memories. Although he won two Tours, he is perhaps best remembered for being the runner-up in the closest Tour finish in history. Leading the Tour by 50 seconds on the last day, Laurent rode a normal bike with aero wheels.
Greg LeMond gambled on new technology: aerobars and an aero helmet invented for him by Jim Gentes (SJBC) of Giro helmets. By riding the fastest speed for any Tour stage, Greg won the ITT by 58 seconds and won the Tour over Fignon by a record 8 seconds. The organizers have never secheduled another ITT on the final day.
I was racing the Ohlone Crit on that day. The crit announcer told us that LeMond won the Tour from 50 seconds down, and I was electrified. Our race came down to the end, and two riders jumped hard up the last hill. I responded like the Tour was on the line and caught one rider on the false flat on the top and started chasing down the hill for the other. I caught him on the descent to the finish line and pounded across for the winners jersey. I was using new technology: a 12-tooth cog while most riders were using 13 or 14 cogs. Today, 11 tooth cogs are common.