November 15, 2015 (Quebec City, QC) – Jean-Yves Labonté (1938-2015), an icon of Quebec cycling, who had a storied career as a former bike racer, mechanic, coach, race organizer, and bike show organizer has passed away reports the Quebec news site Veloptimum. No other details have been released, but it has been known for over a year that Labonté was suffering from kidney failure and was refusing dialysis treatment.
Labonté dropped out of school at age 15 in 1953 to begin his career in cycling as a bike mechanic. He refused a contract from the French-based Peugeot-BP-Michelin team in 1968 to work as their mechanic and may have been the first North American to have been offered a contract by a European cycling team.
Labonté retired from cycling earlier this year after selling his successful and popular Salon Info-Vélo bike show back in March. He was honoured at his final show, and was also recognized by having the Classique Jean-Yves Labonté race named after him.
He touched the lives of many in the sport and his accolades are renowned as he advanced cycling in the province and across the country as a pioneer and innovative organizer. Labonté coached three Olympic athletes and dozens of other notable cyclists including Marc Blouin, Magella Tremblay, Gaétan Boucher (speed skater), Louis Garneau, David Veilleux, Hugo Houle, Veronique Fortin, Joannie Caron, Pierrick Naud, Peter Wedge, Elisabeth Albert and many others.
Pedal joins the cycling community in extending condolences to Labonté’s family and friends.