Frenchman Thierry Marie (Systeme U) won today’s opening stage of the Tour de France, a 4 kilometer individual time trial snaking through Boulogne-Billancourt.
Yet the return of Marie’s teammate Fignon is a more remarkable result. After a year in the wilderness, the blond, bespectacled Laurent Fignon appears to have returned to his best. Fignon poses a genuine threat at the head of a new team, Système U, managed by the wily directeur sportif who has cannily guided him, as he also led Hinault and LeMond: Cyrille Guimard.
Yet the prologue seems to confirm that Hinault is indeed the man to beat. He didn’t win the opening test, as he did last year, but he was close. Hinault thundered around the tight course and finished third, behind Marie, using a soon-to-be-banned aerodynamic fin behind his saddle, and the Belgian sprinter Eric Vanderaerden. Fignon is seventh, 4 seconds slower than Hinault. LeMond is a few fractions of a second behind Fignon.
In terms of time won and lost, these seconds and fractions of seconds are insignificant in the context of the next three weeks. But the prologue is revealing of form. It also establishes an early pecking order: Hinault, Fignon, LeMond.
Please join us tomorrow for continued coverage of the 1986 Tour de France!
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