Het is vandaag al 105 jaar geleden dat de Engelse wielrenner Tom Gascoyne sneuvelde in de Slag om Passendaele. Hij maakte deel uit van het 21st Battalion (Infantry) van the Australian Army, want in the early 1900s Gascoyne quietly dropped out of European racing and emigrated to Australia.
Gascoyne began his cycling career in 1893. In 1896 he set the world record for 25 miles in 57 minutes 18.4 seconds. This was his first attempt at a distance greater than 10 miles on a cinder track and he easily broke the 59 mins 1.6 secs record set by Schaeffer. The riders had been paced by a triplet but he reportedly overtook it because it was not fast enough.
In 1901, in partnership with Sidney Jenkins, he set the English record time for two miles on a tandem and in the same year at the Crystal Palace track he completed an unpaced mile in 2 minutes 5 seconds.
Gascoyne held the world record for an unpaced flying start quarter mile with a time of 25 seconds.
Gascoyne’s international reputation was such that his prospective arrival in New York on the SS Kaiserin Maria Theresia, accompanied by tandem partner Sydney Jenkins, was considered newsworthy by the New York Times of 5 June 1901.
At the Boston cycle-track on Saturday 20 July 1901 he beat Major Taylor twice. The following day at the Vailsburg, Newark (New Jersey) cycle track he beat John Bedell in the half mile handicap for professionals but was then scheduled, without recovery time, to immediately contest an ‘Australian Pursuit’ race against W.S.Fenn from Waterbury, Connecticut. He was defeated after 3 miles, his first ever defeat in a pursuit.
As mentioned before, in the early 1900s Gascoyne dropped out of European racing and emigrated to Australia with his racing colleague H.Brown, a handicap specialist. They did manual work for several years but when they arrived in Newcastle (NSW) they started entering cycle races using the pseudonyms of Mills and Atkinson. Despite an initial lack of fitness, Gascoyne’s natural speed meant that he was soon relegated to ‘scratch’ in the handicap races at night carnivals. Eventually rumours spread and the two riders had to reveal their true identities but their integrity remained intact, they had simply retired from racing to concentrate on manual labour careers. As a stoker Gascoyne’s breathing had suffered sufficiently for him to lose several early races, but the unmasked ‘scratch’ Gascoyne gave up stoking and started training for cycling again. He became particularly popular in Sydney, where he won the 1907 Five Mile Scratch Race on Anniversary night, and was a headline name at races. In December 1911 he finished 11th with his partner Alan Lloyd in the 6 Day Race at Sydney. (Wikipedia)
(Colorisation Bernard Paris)