Updated: Jun 1
AFTER BREAKING RECORDS AT THE VELODROME IN 2015, FRENCH RIDER ROBERT MARCHAND WILL FINALLY RETIRE FROM COMPETITIVE CYCLING. BUT HE'S STILL PEDALING LONG DISTANCE ON HIS STATIONARY BIKE.
At 105 years old, Robert Marchand, the centenarian cyclist chasing a new record
A centenarian French cyclist whose exploits garnered fans worldwide is retiring, ready for more leisurely rides after racing into the record books, his friends told AFP. But Robert Marchand, 106, is still eating up miles on the stationary bike at his modest studio apartment northeast of Paris.
Until this year Robert Marchand’s best result was a seventh place at the Grand Prix of Nations time trial achieved at the age of 35. A commendable result, but one that few would have thought was an indication that the rider would go on to smash the Hour Record.
Still years of practice paid off when, 71 years later he set a new time while cycling in the over-105 age group.
In front of a cheering crowd and TV cameras he covered 22.547 kilometres in one hour at the Vélodrome National de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in France in January 2017. It was a new record for his age group—though the category had to be created specially for him, and he had no competition.
With the UCI having formerly created a 'masters aged 100 and over' category specifically for the rider, his latest achievement has also seen him enter the record books for a second time, as the world’s oldest competitive cyclist.
Name: Robert Marchant
Born: November 26, 1911 (age 108 years), Amiens, France
Height: 1.5 m
Marchand was born in Amiens, near the frontline of the First World War
Marchand was a firefighter in Paris in the 1930s. He was a prisoner-of-war during World War II. He then moved to Venezuela, where he was a lorry driver and sugarcane planter. In the 1950s he went to Canada, where he had a job as a lumberjack. He returned to France in 1960 and worked as a gardener and wine dealer until 1987.
He took an active part during the strikes of 1936 in France that gave birth to the modern era foundations of French employment legislation.
Despite his age the rider still sees room for improvement on his performance.
'I didn't see the sign warning me I had 10 minutes left,' he commented following his ride.
Otherwise I would have gone faster. I would have posted a better time. Now I'm waiting for a rival.'
Frenchman Robert Marchand celebrated turning 107 by riding 15km around Privas, southern France.
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Aged 35 he finished seventh in the Grand Prix ''Des Nations'' in 1946. He returned to cycling in 1978 and continued training after his 100th birthday. In February 2012, he set a world record in one-hour track cycling in the over-100 age group at 24.250 kilometres (15.068 mi). He improved this record to 26.927 kilometres (16.732 mi) in January 2014.
- On 4 January 2017, he set a world record in one-hour track cycling in the over-105 age group, covering 22.547 kilometres (14.010 mi) in one hour, and the 105 year old centenarian declared: "I could have done better, if I had seen the 10-minute warning card, otherwise I would have pedaled slightly faster".
- At the age of 105 he was recognized as the world's oldest competitive cyclist by Guinness World Records.
- Marchand puts his remarkable fitness and longevity down to a diet consisting of: lots of fruit and vegetables, a little meat, not too much coffee – and an hour a day on the cycling home-trainer.
- After he turned 106 Marchand’s doctors advised him to stop competing for world records. He obliged, but refused to quit racing completely. In early February 2018 Marchand completed a 4,000-meter race in the same stadium where he made his last record.
- Marchand celebrated his 107th birthday by going for a 20-kilometre bike ride in the Ardèche.
- After his 108th birthday Marchand stopped riding bikes outdoors due to hearing loss.
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