Major Taylor Cycling Team Continues to Lead the Pack

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Inspired by their namesake, Team Major Taylor (TMT) looks toward a new year of promise as the nationÂ?s only African-American cycling team. Primarily funded by donations through The Mayor Taylor Foundation, TMT competes around the country and strives to preserve Marshall TaylorÂ?s legacy.

Inspired by their namesake, Team Major Taylor (TMT) looks toward a new year of promise as the nation’s only African-American cycling team. Primarily funded by donations through The Mayor Taylor Foundation, TMT competes around the country and strives to preserve Marshall Taylor’s legacy.

Marshall “Major” Taylor was born in a small rural community near Indianapolis on November 26, 1878. His first amateur races were in Indianapolis and Chicago, but he soon started traveling to more prestigious events in Massachusetts and New York. The media named him the “colored Sprint Champion of America” and “the Worchester Whirlwind”.

Due to racial prejudices within the United States, Taylor was forced to compete abroad. However it was during this time, while under the guidance of prominent cyclist Louis Munger, that he reached notoriety. Taylor won his first national championship in 1898. He went on to became world champion in 1899 in Montreal, American sprint champion in 1899 -1900, and broke a series of world records in 1901.

Not only was he the world’s fastest bicycle racer for almost 12 years, but also served as unofficial international ambassador of Black America during a time when racing cyclists were considered to be celebrity. They were superhuman figures that commanded respect and inspired individuals from all walks of life.

Team Major Taylor was officially formed in 2001 by six talented minority students who came to Indiana University united by a common goal: victory in the Little 500. The Indiana University Little 500 has been a cycling staple for more than fifty years. It has been featured on ESPN, ABC's Wide World of Sports, and most notably been the inspiration for the 1979 Academy Award winning film "Breaking Away".

Inspired by their hero Marshall “Major” Taylor, the team hoped to entice minority students to attend and enjoy the traditionally all-white event. Courtney Bishop, TMT founder and coach, believes that the young men’s success is directly related to the level of character and dedication demonstrated by each member.

TMT’s collective wins include the Junior National Road Racing and National Criterium Championships, National Elite Criterium, Illinois Criterium State Championship - category 3, World Cup bronze medalist and Elite Cycling National Medalist. “I consider it an honor to coach such exceptionally talented young men...they will continue to meet the personal and professional standards set by Taylor,” said Bishop.

In August 2004, the Morgan Park Civic League (MPCL) in Chicago, Illinois hosted a community ceremony to celebrate the new Major Taylor Bicycle Trail on Chicago's south side. In 2005, the Foundation is tentatively coordinating a cycling event between Bloomington, Ind. and Martinsville, Ind. to promote diversity within our communities. TMT has already begun training for Indiana University’s Little 500 and anticipates scheduling various educational-based opportunities throughout the year.

For additional information about TMT, how to help support it mission, or information on upcoming events, contact DeAnna Ellis at (317) 955-9456 or Courtney Bishop at (317) 590-1086. You can also access the website at http://www.teammajortaylor.com.

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DeAnna Ellis
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