31 August 2010

Laurent Fignon

Velonews and others reported today about the death of Laurent Fignon at the age of 50.
Laurent Fignon followed by Greg Lemon(d)

My first thoughts when I read he news were: "Oh, he is not that much older than me and he has won the Tour de France twice AND died already." I guess this is what happens when one get older and people one know are passing away to the right and to the left. Until, those who are still standing on the right or on the left will say: "Oh, mob has passed away already!"
I never watched cycling races on TV when I was a kid or later as a student, but for some reason unknown, I remember same names from the Seventies and Eighties: Diddi Thurau (noboby could escape the hype that was created in 1977 when he was leading the TdF), Raymond Poulidor, Joop Zotemelk, Freddi Maertens and of course Eddy Merkcx. And Laurent Fignon. Poulidor and Fignon I just loved for the sound of their names.
Moreover, Laurent Fignon wore this big oval glasses which made him look rather like an intellectual than a road racer. One could imagine him in the Sixties on the barricades in Paris leading the student unrest, agitating with a megaphone.
In this sense he was similar to Günther Netzer, the leading blond soccer revolutionary from my home team Borussia Mönchengladbach. Much adored even in these days. In the end nobody started any revolution but even years later one has the feeling, yes, these were the guys who could have managed it.

As Laurent Fignon was riding during a time when sun glasses were not popular and helmets not wore, one can remember his face and hair style well, they cast a well-known shade. Today, riders are almost anonymous when racing. Would you be able to identify say, Pettachi in a police line-up? Nibali? Tyler Farrar? Rudi Project. Oakley. Addidas. Rh+, Giro, Bell, Specialized, Mets and Catlike.

I am not sure when exactly, for sure not the first time when we met, but Jerome's glasses plus hairstyle reminded me of Laurent Fignon. Not to mention his riding style. So I am happy to see Jerome alive and kicking in Japan: riding on the right, or riding on the left side.


David L. said...

I always thought that the hair and glasses were a sign of elevating fashion over function ... his refusal to wear an ungainly aero helmet over his flowing hair losing him approx 16 seconds in the 1989 final TT ... resulting in a loss of the Tour de France by 8 seconds.

One must ask -- did the doping (common then and admitted by Fignon) have anything to do with the cancer and premature death?

Dominic H said...

Some nice comments/memories from the now reclusive Robert Millar who won the polka dot jersey in 1984:


In a sad irony, I was wearing my Fignon T-shirt yesterday. It was only in the evening that news of his death came through.

Dominic H said...

Another good Laurent Fignon article: