Author: Laurent Fignon
Translated from the French by William Fotheringham
These are the opening sentences to a wonderful autobiography of Laurent Fignon. They exactly capture both Fignon’s true self.
Many Americans only know Fignon from that July day in 1989 when Lemond was able to take 58 seconds out of Fignon over a short 24.5 kilometer time trial course on the final day of the Tour.*
He was so much more.
“We Were Young and Carefree” opens at the 1989 Tour and discusses the controversy of Lemond’s bike. He deals with this first, to get it out of the way because that’s what most people want to know about.
Then we get to know the rest of his story.
Fignon traces his beginnings in amateur racing leading up to an invitation to an invitation by Cyrille Guimard to become part of the legendary Renault team. Renault, which included Bernard Hinaut. You get to hear stories and learn about the way that professional cycling teams were run in the 80s. And throughout are lots of funny ( and not so funny ) racing stories.
The book is described this way: “In this unflinching memoir Fignon spares neither team-mates nor opponents, no even himself. He lays bare the friendships, the rivalries, the betrayals, the parties, the girls, and, of course, the performance-enhancing drugs behind this epic sport.”
Laurent Fignon passed away on August 31, 2010 from cancer. He joined the television station France 2 in 2006 as a commentator and worked through the 2010 Tour.
In his career Fignon won 76 races, including the Tour de France twice, 1983 and 1984 ( including on his first attempt; only Hinault, Copi and Merckx also accomplished this feat ), La Fleche Wallonne in 1986, Milan-San Remo back-to-back in 1988 and 1989, and the Giro d’Italia 1989.
* Fignon’s dispute was not the shape of the handlebars, it was with the armrests. According to Fignon, until then the referees had only allowed three support points, while LeMond’s bike had four: pedals, saddle, bars and elbow rests.