Gallopin, Jalabert, Hinault, Tchmil and Armstrong pay tribute to Fignon
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gallopin, Jalabert, Hinault, Tchmil and Armstrong pay tribute to Fignon

by Conal Andrews at 11:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Double Tour winner remembered with affection

Laurent FignonThe passing of Laurent Fignon early today has been met with surprise by many people, not least two of those who spent time with him in his least few months.

Former soigneur and directeur sportif Allan Gallopin was very close to Fignon and said that he felt that his passing was like losing a brother. “I saw a fighter until the end,” he told l’Equipe. “Yesterday morning, we still felt he was fighting it, he requested information on treatment….he was still conscious, he knew who was there and communicated mostly via signs.

“Then, his condition deteriorated. This morning (Tuesday), we felt it was over. Everybody was prepared (for his death) because for a year and a half, many treatments have been tried that did not work.”

Fignon could have taken things easier in recent months but instead fought on, continuing to carry out his duties as a consultant to France Télévision during the Tour de France, despite being hardly able to speak.

Work colleague Laurent Jalabert, who also was a top professional, said that the news was unexpected. He realised that Fignon was sick, but still held out hope.

“When you know someone is suffering from a disease that is not easy to treat, we always feared it would not end up well. But now, I am shocked,” he told the newspaper. “I am upset because, honestly, I thought after the Tour he was on the right track.”

He said that his respect was both as a rider and as a colleague. “I rubbed shoulders with him as a cyclist, and I came to realize that he was a great champion. After, I had the luck to rub shoulders with Laurent these past four years at France Televisions and to appreciate his human qualities.”

Fignon was a fighter, both on and off the bike, and Gallopin said that he continued to battle. He also kept his dignity throughout. “He was hospitalised a fortnight ago after pulmonary complications,” he said. “It was becoming increasingly difficult. He was noble until the end, as he always was. He gave everything he could. When he announced his cancer had a year ago and a half, he said, ''In any case, I'm not afraid to die.”

Russian rider Andrei Tchmil and multiple Tour winner Lance Armstrong also paid tribute today. “We rode in the same peloton for several years” said the Team Katusha manager. “His death gives me a lot of sadness because we were good friends. It’s terrible that this disease was so fast. I have lost a good friend.”

Armstrong spoke about his passing on Twitter, “Just woke to the news that Laurent Fignon has passed on. He was a dear friend and a legendary cyclist. We will miss you, Laurent.”

Fignon was the second-last French Tour de France winner to date, winning the race in 1983 and 1984. He beat Bernard Hinault to win the second of those, then Hinault came back the following year and won his fifth title.

The two Frenchmen had an intense rivalry, but also a mutual respect. Hinault also expressed his sympathies today. “It affects me, as it affects everyone who loves cycling,” he told Ouest France. “We were together before, one against the other. He always fought to win. With this, he fought and lost.”


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