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TURNING THE TABLE ON JACQUELIN, THE FRENCH IDOL-PARIS-GRAND PRIX 1901 (Written by Major Taylor ) .

This is a first hand account of the Grand Prix-Paris from Major Taylor autobiography (The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World.)1928

Taylor against Jacquelin (La Vie Au Grand Air) 1901

''After having competed in ten races in the various sections of Europe I was called upon for the feature event of the tour -the match race with French champion Edmond Jacquelin. This race of races was held at the ''Parc des Princes'' in Paris on May 16, 1901.

At the time of this race I felt I was in excellent physical condition for the big fuss and desired only a warm day for the race. I was doomed for disappointment, however, because the day was cold and raw and despite the fact that I wore an extra heavy sweater I shivered as I took my warming-up trips over the track . The fates had also decreed that I was to be beaten on this occasion by the great Jacquelin and I took my reverse gracefully. I offered no excuses.''

Taylor beaten after first meeting enter the race backstage.(La Vie Au Grand Air) 1901


''Although Jacquelin defeated me in our first meeting I learned a very valuable lesson while he was turning the trick . That was that Jacquelin's well-known mental hazard (that deadly jump) through which he gained his margin of victory in most of his races availed him naught when he pulled it on me. From experience I learned that try as he might Jacquelin couldn't jump away from me and in each of our heats I was right at his rear wheel as we crossed the finishing line.

Incidentally , I realized that Jacquelin was as good a rider as I has heard him proclaimed and that with a warmer sun and balmier air I could have given a far better account of myself.

At the conclusion of the second and deciding heat of our match race Jacquelin astonished me by his childish antics. He was so carried away with his victory over me that he lost his head completely and thumbed his nose at me immediately after crossing the tape all the way around the track. As I stood bewildered by Jacquelin 's actions his thousand of friends and admirers poured out of the grandstands and carried him about the track on their shoulders. In all my experience on the tracks of the country and Europe I had never before suffered such humiliation as Jacquelin 's insult caused me.''

Jacquelin carried by his friends and supporters after his victory against Taylor (La Vie Au Grand Air) 1901

''However , Jacquelin's conduct was to react as a boomerang . I was hurt to the quick by his unsportsmanlike conduct and resolved then and there that I would not return home until I had wiped out his insult. My opportunity to square the balances came in a fortnight and I did little else but plan that race in the interim. I made up my mind that I would lead Jacquelin home in the championship match race by such a margin that there would be no doubt, even in his mind, as to who was better rider .

So on May 27 I had planned my campaign in a way that I figured would bring the best results. I was in prime condition for this race and was still further favored with a hot day . So pleased was I at the weather condition that I felt this was going to be my day .

Upwards of thirty thousand , Impatient bicycle race enthusiast greeted Jacquelin and I with a storm of applause as we came out to face the starter. The Frenchman had his same arrogant smile as he mounted his wheel .

Taylor and Jacquelin entering track (La Vie Au Grand Air) 1901

As we rode slowly from the tape in the first heat there was great cheering . After some maneuvering Jacquelin and I tried to force each other into the lead. In so doing both of us came to a dead stop. We were practically side by side, Jacquelin being slightly ahead . Balancing a few moments, I backed slowly half a revolution of my crank until I brought myself directly behind Jacquelin. That's just where I wanted to be . The grandstands were now in a frenzy . Realizing I had out-maneuvered him on this score Jacquelin laughed out-right and moved off in the lead prepared for business.

I was so satisfied that I could bring him into camp on this occasion that I again allowed him to ride his own race. I played right into his hands and actually permitted him to start his famous jump from his favorite distance, about two hundred fifty yards from the tape.

the applause was deafening.''

Taylor and Jacquelin on the Track ''Parc Des Princes''-Paris .(La Vie Au Grand Air) 1901

''Twenty minutes later we were called out for our second heat . It proved to be the final heat , as per my plans. I worked in a bit os psychology after both of us had mounted and were strapped in. I reached over and extended my hand to Jacquelin and he took it with a great show of surprise . Under the circumstances he could not have refused to shake hands with me.

I knew from the expression on his face that he was well aware of the fact that my hand-shake was a demonstration of sarcasm pure and simple. My motive was to impress on Jacquelin that I was so positive that I could defeat him again that this was going to be the last heat . Followers of boxing will recognize my action as a parallel to what happens at the boxers' meet at the start of the final round.

As the French idol gathered the full significance of my gesture he mumbled something, shrugged his shoulders, and set his jaw . His sneering smile disappeared and a frown encompassed his face.

Taylor handshake with Jacquelin.(La Vie Au Grand Air) 1901

No sooner had the starter's gun sent us away than Jacquelin seriously accepted the lead without the usual jockeying . However fifty yards left to go we tore off the steep banking together , and entered the home stretch and dashed for the tape, I kicked away from him -the resentment I bore towards Jacquelin for the insult he offered me serving to pace me as I never had been paced before . When I crossed the finish line Jacquelin was again four length behind.''

Arrival of Taylor and Jacquelin in the final match (French National Library)

''As I crossed the tape I quickly pulled a small, silk American flag from my bet and waved it vigorously in front of the vulgar Jacquelin while we circled the track . Meantime the people were howling their approval and tossing their hats into the air as I deftly turned the tables on the French hero. It appeared that the vast audience, although stunned for moment by my victory over their idol , were delighted to have me take some of the conceit out of him. They were also elated at the method I pursued to even up the insult he had offered me at the close our first match. Jacquelin was severely censored by the press and the public for his ingentlemantly conduct. He made a gesture that was merely a military salute, so I thought it only fair and quite proper to return my salute in this manner as ample revenge for his insult.

Meantime the band struck up the ''Star Spangled Banner'' as I rode my lap of honor with a big bouquet of roses on my shoulder which were symbolic of my victory . Hundreds of Americans poured onto the track and gave me a splendid ovation as did thousands of natives, men and women . This was my greatest triumph in Paris.''

Trophy won by Major Taylor against Edmond Jacquelin (Courtesy of Indiana State Museum)

The trophy won By Taylor against Jacquelin in Paris is now part of the Indiana State Museum collection. The artifact was donated by Taylor's daughter Sydney Taylor Brown in 1985. We had the honor to visit the museum and explore the collection that was also on display last year. The exhibition was curated by Kisha Tandy who gave us a Tour and presented us the trophy : watch this video :

You can also watch the trailer concept of the film documentary ''Whirlwind'' and find out how you can help bring Taylor's legacy to millions of people worldwide: https://www.worcesterwhirlwind.com

Thank you for your time and support.


''Whirlwind Staff''


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