Laurent Fignon died from cancer, aged 50, on Tuesday, August 31. The French professional cyclist won the Tour de France in 1983 and 1984 and the Giro d’Italia in 1989.
Fignon also won Milan-San Remo (1988, 1989), La Flèche Wallonne (1986), Criterium International (1982, 1990), as well as stages of Paris-Nice and Vuelta a Espana among others.
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Fignon will also be remembered as the rider who lost the 1989 Tour de France by just eight seconds to Greg Lemond.
Here we present a selection of photographs taken by Graham Watson that capture the essence of Fignon’s cycling career and the man himself.
Laurent Fignon waves to the crowd on the Champs-Elysées after winning his first Tour de France in 1983.
Fignon leads Steve Bauer and eventual winner Eddy Planckaert over the cobbles at the 1990 Paris-Roubaix. Fignon is one of the last grand tour winner to challenge seriously at the Hell of the North.
Wearing the pink jersey as leader of the Giro d’Italia, Fignon outsprints world champion Maurizio Fondriest (right) and Aussie Phil Anderson (in blue) the 20th stage of the 1989 race at La Spezia.
Winning the final stage of the 1987 Paris-Nice on the Promenade des Anglais.
The joy is obvious at La Plagne. Fignon beats Spaniard Anselmo Fuerte to win a mountain stage in the Alps at the Tour de France. This is the day made famous by Stephen Roche’s incredible pursuit of Pedro Delgado and it is often overlooked that Fignon won the stage.
Wearing the red, white and blue as champion of France in the 1984 Tour de France. The blond hair and studious spectacles complete a look that will forever instantly recognisable as Laurent Fignon.
Only Le Professeur, the Parisian bookworm who could at times be aloof, would cool his feet at the end of a hard day on the Tour de France with bottled water.
The other Fignon trademark was the headband. Only he was insouciant enough to pull it off. Here he’s climbing to Morzine-Avoriaz in a mountain time trial towards the end of the 1983 Tour. Tenth place on the day was enough to preserve the yellow jersey.
Time trialling on Mont Ventoux in the 1987 Tour. This was not a good day for the two-time champion. He was 64th – more than nine minutes down on stage winner Jean-François Bernard.
Standing hands on hips, alone against the mountains in the 1990 Giro d’Italia. The form was not as good as the previous year.
At the team launch at the 1990 Giro. People made fun of the Castorama jersey and shorts design. It was made to look like the overalls worn by staff in the chain of DIY stores. As Fignon revealed in his autobiography We Were Young And Carefree, the design was a collaboration between himself and Cyrille Guimard and he was proud of it.