Biography

Laurent Gadou was born in Montreal Quebec on August 18, 1912. In true Canadian tradition Laurent started to participate in sports as a hockey player. But by sixteen years old Laurent was riding for the Club Quilicot under the advice and support of Luigi Quilicot. Quilicot had a bicycle shop on Saint-Denis, Les Bicycles Quilicot. Luigi also started the very successful Club Quilicot, and was the coach and trainer to many of the top Canadian and Quebec cycling champions. Under Luigi's tutelage many Quebec racers became professional six-day racers including: Joe Laporte, Henri Lepage, Jules Audy, Zénon St-Laurent, Laurent Gachon, René Cyr, Bob Lacourse, Laurent Tessier, René Paquin, Guy Morin and Laurent Gadou. Laurent was given the nickname 'Tibi' because of his quick cat like reaction and bike handling skills.

Laurent Gadou was a professional racer from 1930-1948. He had 39 six-day race starts and had eight podium placings including a victory in the Montreal 1933 (b.) six-day race with the American Frank Bartell as a partner.

The following is the Canadian Press Dispatch from Montreal October 16, 1933:

Youngsters Win Bicycle Grind - Laurent Gadou and Frank Bartell Score Surprise Win in Montreal Race
Two young riders Sunday held a surprise victory in Montreal's ninth semi-annual six-day bicycle race. They were Laurent Gadou, Montreal and Frank Bartell, Czechoslovakia, who came from behind Saturday night to grab and hold a lead of a single lap over four other teams. The fifth and sixth teams to finish were two more laps behind. While the teams of Piet Van Kempen, Holland and Polly Parrott, Victoria B.C.; Torchy Peden, Victoria and Jules Audy, Montreal; Letourneur, France and Henri Lepage, Montreal, were struggling for top position, the youthful winners stole a march on the field to take the lead. But the drama of the final hour was centered about a fall by Van Kempen, his first of the race. His team was tied with Gadou and Bartell in distance, holding a sufficient margin of spring points to ensure victory. But Peden and Audy started a desperate attempt for the tying lap and had almost secured the needed circuit to draw level in distance and ahead on points. Suddenly Van Kempen went down, the race stopped and Peden and Audy lost their chance to gain the lap.

Final Standings:

1. Gadou-Bartell	2468 miles	5 laps	401 points
2. Peden-Audy		2468 miles	4 laps	1320 points
3. Letourneur-Lepage	2468 miles	4 laps	125 points
4. Van Kempen-Parrott	2468 miles	4 laps	817 points
5. Gachon-Ottevarie	2468 miles	4 laps	346 points
6. Fielding-McDonald	2468 miles	2 laps	802 points

Winnipeg Free Press, Monday October 18, 1933

As a teenager Gadou had already made a tremendous start to his six-day career by taking two podium placings in his first two six day races:

1930 Montreal Six-Day Bicycle Race (b.) with Marcel Boogmans (Bel), 3rd place
1931 Montreal Six-Day Bicycle Race (b.) with George Dempsey (Aus) 3rd place

Because Laurent was small in stature his partners had difficultly with the seat or pocket sling. So in 1933 his partner Frank Bartell started to use the hand sling to get Laurent launched into the jam. This proved very successful and led to other riders using the hand sling. By the late 1930s Torchy Peden was pushing the racers to all use the hand sling instead of the pocket sling.

During a race in 1935 Gadou was run over by a truck and four of his toes were amputated at the Notre Dame Hospital. Being a courageous, determined racer Laurent took only 1 ½ years of rehabilitation and training before he was back in shape as a professional 6-day racer.

An example of his courage occurred at the Philadelphia Six-Day Bicycle race in 1937. Laurent was partnered with Reggie Fielding of Toronto. It was Laurent's eighth six-day race since January and he was in excellent condition. On Day 5 some bad luck hit Reggie and he went down hard during a sprint at a time when he and Laurent were tied for the lead. Reggie was banged up heavily and retired to his cabin. Laurent rode alone for hours keeping the team on the same laps with the leaders. A sports reporter described when Fielding joined Gadou on the track:

For a couple of sprints, the gritty Englishman did very well, but then came disaster. Riding around one of the turns slowly after being temporarily relieved by Gadou, Fielding again crashed to the boards for no reason at all. Again he struck his head, and this time he was completely out. It was then that Gadou proved his metal. Single-handedly he carried the burden for his team, and actually took second in one of the remaining sprints. Thereafter, until daybreak, he did practically all of the riding and kept in step with the other leaders.

With Fielding somewhat restored on Saturday, the harassed team did very well, considering their condition. Late in the day they lost a lap to the leaders, and another when the winning Audy and Lepage team stole a circuit on the entire field in the evening, ("A Rider Who Wouldn't Surrender").

After World War II, at 35 years old Laurent Gadou participated in the revival of six-day racing in North American riding in races in New York, Chicago, Cleveland and Buffalo. Typical of the Canadian hard men Gadou raced in 39 six-day bicycle races. He finished 27 and abandoned 12.

This writer sincerely hopes that Laurent Gadou will be recognized in the near future by the Le Temple de la Renommée du Cyclisme Québécois for the contribution that he has made to Quebec and Canadian track cycling

Arnold Devlin