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:
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
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:
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:
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