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Memories from… Riccione, 1989: Piasecki’s TT and Fignon’s overall victory


Who remembers the Polish rouleur Lech Piasecki? He was a very good rider, world champion among amateurs in 1985, winner of five stages in the Giro d’Italia and two Trofeo Baracchi, one of them with Giuseppe Saronni. What distinguished him, other than his talent, was his very visible moustache.

The 1989 Giro d’Italia brought him 2 stage wins, the first of which was a time trial, the 36.8 km Pesaro-Riccione, where he beat Dutchman Erik Breukink, who went on to take the Maglia Rosa, by 25 seconds and Stephen Roche by 33 seconds. It was Stage 10, and on that day for the first time, Laurent Fignon began to show he had come to the Giro with the intention to win. After the magical 1983-1984 Tour de France victory, he had struggled to repeat those standards in the Grand Tours.

In 1989, however, the blond-haired Frenchman was quickly returning to the levels with which he had enchanted the world, and in Riccione, he entered the top 3 of the general classification for the first time. Four days later, on the way to Corvara, Breukink suffered a serious crisis and Fignon flew into the Maglia Rosa, which he carried through to the grand finale in Florence.

That was Fignon’s last great triumph, and he would also come close to a resounding one-two at the Tour de France, in one of the cruelest pages this sport has ever written, as he would lose the yellow jersey by just 8 seconds (!) to Greg LeMond, making it the closes Tour in history.

Interesting fact: Fignon’s success at the Giro d’Italia is, to date, the penultimate victory of a French rider in a Grand Tour, since after 1989 the only one to have won a three-week stage race was Laurent Jalabert, at the 1995 Vuelta a España.


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