Laurent Fignon, a Frenchman who twice won the Tour de France but was defeated by American rival Greg LeMond in arguably the event’s greatest race, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer, the French Cycling Federation said. He was 50.Fignon announced in June 2009 that he had advanced cancer of the digestive system and was undergoing chemotherapy.
Fignon had worked as a television commentator for the state-backed France 2 network since 2006 â€” and right through this year’s Tour, which ended barely a month ago. His voice was gravelly from his illness and treatment.
“He was a great champion who used a combination of talent and will to win the Tour de France twice,” French Cycling Federation president David Lappartient told The Associated Press. “He had an iron will, and was also a very intelligent man.”
Seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong, who himself battled cancer, called Fignon a “dear friend” and a “legendary cyclist.”
“I will never forget the early 90s when I first turned pro, of course terrified of these ‘older guys,’ Laurent was always a friendly face with words of advice,” Armstrong said in a statement. “He was a special man to me, to cycling, and to all of France. Laurent, we will all miss you.” Continue reading