In the 1983 Tour de France…..FRA Laurent Fignon was a part of the team that helped Bernard Hinault to win the 1983 Vuelta a España….when his coach Guimard did not want to send Fignon to the Tour de France….as his coach felt that two grand tours could be too much for a 22-year-old rider….but when Hinault, winner of four of the five previous Tours announced that he would not start due to injury….which left the Renault team without a leader….and that is when Laurent Fignon was added to the 1983 Tour de France selection for the Renault team….as the team decided to go for stage wins….with hopes of having Fignon or Marc Madiot compete for the best debutant category.
After stage nine, the first mountain stage, Fignon was in second place behind Pascal Simon…..and he was allowed to be team leader….then on the 10th stage, Simon crashed and broke his shoulder blade…. but Simon continued on….and only lost a little time on the next stages. On the fifteenth stage, a mountain time trial, Fignon was able to win back so much time that he was within one minute of Simon. On the seventeenth stage, Simon had to give up, and Fignon became the new leader…..when on the next stages, he was able to answer all attacks from his opponents….plus, he won the time trial on the 21st stage…..and at 22 years old……Laurent Fignon was the youngest man to win the Tour de France since 1933.
Fignon later said that he was lucky to have won the 1983 Tour….cuz if Hinault had been present, he would have had to help him since Hinault was the team leader. With his round glasses and “his aire of debonaire”….Fignon was a contrast to Hinault’s hard-knocks image….as he earned the nickname “The Professor”…..not only because of these glasses…..but also because he was one of the few cyclists who had passed his baccalaureat exams. Early in the broadcasting career of legendary sportscaster and former TDF rider Paul Sherwen referred to Fignon as an alternate version of his nickname during telecasts which into English approximately translates to “The Stern Professor”.