A tribute to Laurent Fignon

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Very sad news today that Laurent Fignon has died, aged 50. I’m sometimes uncomfortable with the sentimentalism that appears when someone who we didn’t know dies. People eulogise but can’t claim to know the person, this can undermine their nice words.

Yet without knowing the man, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it wasn’t for Laurent Fignon. For a variety of reasons I glanced at the 1989 Tour de France… and got hooked for life. In particular it was the excitement and panache of this rider that drew me in. Now this blog is inconsequential, what I’m saying is that this rider was exciting and complicated enough to make me follow, and eventually, take up the sport and plenty has happened because of this.

1989 changed a lot. In time came new friends, travel, health, happiness and more. Chance, oh yes, but Fignon started a very long chain of events in my life.

Maybe all this wouldn’t have happened if he’d not been there to liven up the Tour de France? I’ve heard others saying they too got into the sport because of the 1989 and those eight seconds.

I could write plenty about Laurent Fignon but if you want to find out more, I’d recommend his excellent biography, “We Were Young and Carefree” available in both French and English.

In the book he explained he wasn’t scared of death and whilst today is a sad one for me, it’s also an inspiration to live life as full as we can, on and off the bike. The man may be dead but the memories are immortal.

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{ 3 comments }

John Sutton August 31, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I second your opinion about Laurent Fignon's biography, definitely worth seeking out. Back in the eighties it was Lemond who hooked my interest in cycling, someone who was from the outside shaking up the impenetrable world of European procycling. This meant that the riders I loved to hate were the spikey and arrogant French, especially Ms. Fignon and Hinault. In hindsight, my opinion of Fignon was entirely based on his apparent lack of approachability and not his cycling. He won the Tour de France twice and the Giro d'Italia and is one of a tiny handful of riders to have won the Tour on debut.His record, in other words, speaks for itself.What strikes me most from his biography, however was his attitude towards the cheats. He retired from the sport quite simply because he couldn't bear the fact that lesser men were beating him through artificial means and for that, both Lemond and he should be remembered as great champions, and not the winner and loser of the closest Tour de France in history.

Anonymous September 16, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Fignon lived a full passionate and courageous life. I do not believe he would have changed anything.Even when faced with his own premature death, he proved what a lion he was. We should be grateful, that he has touched so many of our lives and continues to be an inspiration to so many.

Merci Laurent et au revoir

Glam August 28, 2012 at 3:08 am

I was an early teen i have “heard” of cycle racing and come across it when a friend gave me a tape of the 87 tdf. I saw Laurent fignon and was hooked. My life became cycling because of this man. I cannot explain more than that. He was my hero cause he was such an aggressive rider and didn’t fit into the norm. The glasses, hair, the panache all that. Cannot believe he’s gone. A true legend a giant of the road.

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