Le Championnat des Triporteurs: the sprint tactics begin for Cognasson (on the left), who won, and Robert Petit
The 12th Championnat des Triporteurs
We have followed for some time the Championnat des Triporteurs, it is newly astonishing and amazing to us each year.
These men, who, perched upon the cumbersome and heavy machines loaded with 65 kilograms, manage to realize a speed of 25 km/h along the 39 kilometers of roads along the old fortifications girdling the capital, surpass the understanding of the layman.
And, it is well to note that the road does not resemble a smooth billiard ball. There are climbs, descents, tight corridors, badly paved roads... and especially the cloud of cyclists and "motards" who wish to escort their favorites at any price. A fall occurs: the brakes, harshly pressed, squeal plaintively; the cars and bicycles jerk to a stop, and the middle of the street is filled with a mixture of wheels, handlebars, arms and legs. Do you think that the followers are merely decorations? Not at all. The damage repaired - when it is not irrevocable - they return to the trial in the nearest group. It is useless to exhort them to prudence, to bar the road, or attempt to help them balance; they return tirelessly, like the flies of summer which ceaselessly attack your skin.
A cap, carried by the wind, flies into the air. It is of no importance to stop; a pompe, after innumerable bumps, falls off and rolls to the ground with a clatter. It could be worse, it is better to continue... Who can explain the unconscious fervor of the follower of any cycle race, whether it be of two wheels or three?
The triporteurs, they stupify us with their skill, their audacity, their quick eye and their strength. There are moments where one cannot supress a shiver. At the long descent at the edge of the Porte d'Italie, I heard Cognasson, who was in the lead, shout to the camera cars to clear the road for him to pass. The speedometer of our car, at this moment, was showing 60 km/h!
Marcel Cognassion, as it was suspected, was the grand winner of this astonishing test. He had already won in 1926, 1927, 1928, 1930 and 1931, and one can say that in this speciality he is the uncontested champion. Who can say of themselves, it does not matter in which sport, that they have won the championship six times?
But he did not win as easily as he has in years past, for there is a "rookie", the young Robert Petit, who has made life hard for him.
As is his habit, Marcel Cognasson went right from the start. While it is often wise in standard bicycle races to wait and play tactics in the peloton, this can be extremely dangerous in a race of triporteurs. These three-wheeled machines, though heavily loaded, are not as stable as they might seem. They zigzag, don't hold a good line, turn on two wheels and sometimes hang up and crash heavily. Having had such misfortune in the past; Cognasson, therefore, left the group early on, but took with him the thin and nervous Robert Petit, who courageously clung to the favorite all the way to the finish.
The battle was finished with a sprint - a true and curious sprint - which ended with Cognasson victorious and a collision with the photographers. [C'est les quatre fers en l'air], wedged under his machine, that Cognasson accepted the first congratulations.
Ah! he sighed, to think that there are some who protest against races held on closed courses!
The start on the Quai de Grenelle
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