TURNING THE TABLES ON JACQUELIN,...

vendredi 1er juillet 2022, par velovi

From The Fastest Bicycle Rider In the World, THE STORY OF A COLORED BOY’S INDOMITABLE COURAGE AND SUCCESS AGAINST GREAT ODDS, AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY Marshall W. « Major » Taylor

CHAPTER XLV
TURNING THE TABLES ON JACQUELIN, THE FRENCH IDOL PARIS

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 the French champion Edmond Jacquelin. This race of races was held at the « Pare du Princess » in Paris on May 16, 1901.
At the time of this match 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 a 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.

Edmond Jacquelin—Champion of France

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

Major Taylor—Champion of America

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 thousands 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 this country and Europe I had never before suffered such humiliation as Jacquelin’s insult caused me.
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 for that race in the interim. I made up my mind that I would lead Jacquelin home in this championship match race by such a margin that there would be no doubt, even in his mind, as to who was the 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 conditions that I felt this was going to be my day.

Start of First Heat of Second Grand Challenge Match

Upwards of thirty thousand eager, impatient bicycle race enthusiasts 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. 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 outmaneuvered him on this score Jacquelin laughed outright 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. However, I was very careful to jump at the same instant and the sprint down that long straight stretch must have been magnificent. Jacquelin was four lengths behind when I dashed across the tape. The applause was deafening.
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 of 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.

Hand Shake—Start of Second and Last Match

I knew from the expression on his face that he was well aware that bewildering 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.

No sooner had the starter’s gun sent us away than Jacquelin seriously accepted the lead without the usual jockeying. However, as we came to the last quarter I took the lead and with two hundred fifty yards left to go we tore off the steep banking together, and as we 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 lengths behind.

Finish of Revenge Match

As I crossed the tape I quickly pulled a small, silk American flag from my belt 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 the 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 of our first match. Jacquelin was severely censored by the press and public for his ungentlemanly 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.

My « Military » Salute

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.

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