At just 50. A real shame. One of the names that captured my cycling imagination many years ago.
Fignon was before my time, or at least before the time I was aware of cycling at that level.
However I enjoyed the piece on Cycling News, from an interview with Robert Millar and some anecdotes about Fignon. I thought this was the pick of them.
“Another great memory I have is from the year after, 1984, during stage 20 of the Tour de France from Morzine to Crans Montana. It's boiling hot. As we hit the bottom of the final climb to the finish, Pascal Jules from Fignon's team is in front with about a minute lead. There are a few attacks but then Fignon hits the front to calm things down, probably thinking that if he controls the pace then no-one will dare come past.”
“He's not wrong as he's going so fast the talking has stopped in the bunch. After a couple of kilometres I somehow find myself in second position right behind him and start thinking and feeling that the pace he is setting is way too much for my liking. As it becomes more and more uncomfortable to maintain some kind of composure I think to myself that it might be better to slip back a bit and get more shelter amongst the wheels of the group, maybe recover a bit because I know it gets steeper later on. If Fignon had been going slower I might have been able to look round and see there was no group to hide in. We were lined out in the gutter so much that when I pulled over to recover a bit no-one came past. And with that Fignon rode off to catch his friend and win the stage.”
I was waiting for one of the other riders to complain that I had let the wheel go but strangely no-one mentioned it. Everyone knew just how strong Fignon was and knew they would not have been able to hold his wheel either.”