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'Chapeau' doesn't seem to do justice to achievement of centenarian who is still going strong in the saddle...

A 100-year-old cyclist from France has set a new age group world record for The Hour an incredible 86 years after his first competitive race.

Robert Marchand, who lives in Mitry-Mory near Paris, had to enter that debut race under an assumed name because he was too young to compete.

Today, at the track at the World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, he rode 24.251 kilometres in the allotted time, and explained, “I’m not playing at being a champion. I just wanted to do something for my 100th birthday,” reports the UCI. The previous record distance was not revealed.

Marchand, who celebrated his 100th birthday on 26 November – the Titanic was still being fitted out in Belfast when he was born, and the First World War was yet to come – made his world record attempt following a request by Gérard Mistler, Président of the Ardéchoise Cyclo-Promotion – the centenerian is a perennial entrant to the cyclosportive, launched in 1992 when he was a sprightly 79 years of age.

“I think he is a human example of the benefits of cycling,” commented Mistler. “The fact that this record is established at the WCC, headquarters of the International Cycling Union, is truly symbolic.”

Marchand admitted that he was a bit rusty when it came to track cycling, and spent four days this week familiarising himself with the venue before his successful record attempt today.

“I haven’t cycled on a track for 80 years,” he revealed. “You have to get used to the fixed gear! I prefer cycling outside but that is impossible at the moment.”

Snow in Switzerland also meant that he had to keep an eye on his health. “I don’t want to catch the flu. So I am short on training,” he explained.

The cyclist was coached by 40-year-old Magali Humbert, former World Juniors Champion and a multiple French national track champion on the track.

“The track is small. You just turn round and round,” Marchand said earlier this week.  “I could keep going for another hour. I’ve been told not to raise my pulse too high so I’m not even tired.”

He added that he tries to follow doctors’ orders not to let his pulse go over 110, but said that isn’t always possible.

“I did climb a steep hill not long ago and went up to 134 but it’s best to avoid that,” he revealed. “But I would be very surprised if I had heart attack,” he continued, revealing that in the build-up to the record attempt he had undergone a cardiograph for the first time in his life. It showed his heart was in great shape.

“For the last five years I have decided not to go for rides of more than 100km,” he went on, adding with supreme understatement, “There is no point going overboard. I want to keep cycling for some time yet.”

His exploits have led to a mountain pass being named after him in the Ardèche, the Col Robert Marchand, which not by coincedence has an elevation of 911 metres – the last three digits of his year of birth.

Asked what his secret is, Marchand, whose former jobs included being gym instructor to the Paris fire department plus three years as a lumberjack in Canada, explained: “I’ve never abused anything. I don’t smoke, I never drank much. The only thing I did in excess was work. I retired at 89 years old!”

Cycling wasn’t the only sport he turned his hand – in the past, he was a boxer, gymnast and weightlifter. Of the latter, Marchand said, “I was good. I could have been a champion.

“But basically,” he concluded, “I am like everybody. I am lucky that I haven’t had any major health problems. My advice to anyone, young or old, is to keep moving. I do ‘physical culture’ every day. It works out my whole body and keeps me supple. Some people when they reach 80 years old, start playing cards and they stay immobile. Not me. I’ve never been able to keep still…”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

21 comments

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John G [57 posts] 5 years ago
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Superb effort. Hats off to Robert Marchand.

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Fran The Man [82 posts] 5 years ago
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What an achievement! And what good advice about keeping moving. If - in ten years' time - I'm as fit as Robert Marchand, I'll be pleased. I'll be just 80 then!

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brodibike [17 posts] 5 years ago
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Phew! - there's hope for me yet!  13

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 5 years ago
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He certainly doesn't look 100.

Alan Sugar looks older.

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Simon E [2994 posts] 5 years ago
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Raleigh wrote:

Alan Sugar looks older.

Ah, but that's allright - he's got an excuse, he's rich and famous  3

A very big 'chapeau' to monsieur Marchand!

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seabass89 [212 posts] 5 years ago
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Wow, Robert Marchand!

You are my idol! Amazing, truly amazing!

What a gent, helmet off!

I wish I am like him when I turn 100!

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titch75 [14 posts] 5 years ago
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inspiration to young and old, im only 16 and he's an inspiration to me. he shows that you dont have to be a champ to set records hat off to the guy!

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Bez [608 posts] 5 years ago
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Chapeau!

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 5 years ago
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Perhaps it was distasteful to include the picture of AMS 1.  39

oh well, I'll stop spamming the forum for a few hours

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antonio [1158 posts] 5 years ago
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Another twenty six years and I'll give it a go.

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Alan Tullett [1570 posts] 5 years ago
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Amazing achievement.

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notfastenough [3719 posts] 5 years ago
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It's best not to do more than 100km - but he only decided that 95?!

The mind boggles. Hats off to you sir!

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Mostyn [396 posts] 5 years ago
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Raleigh wrote:

He certainly doesn't look 100.

Alan Sugar looks older.

Alan Sugar, also looks Uglier than the Century old Marchand!

Like Sugars bike though!

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rogie40 [31 posts] 5 years ago
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Magnifique innit Rodders!?
I bet that was the guy that whizzed past me last year  20
And long may he reign!

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roshgosh [13 posts] 5 years ago
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I wonder if there are any challengers to his record out there? That'd be something, seeing 2 centurions going head to head on the boards.

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Loaf2112 [7 posts] 5 years ago
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Forget the Tour, Giro & Olympics, this is the Cycling story of 2012. All pay homage to Robert Marchand

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don_don [149 posts] 5 years ago
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Loaf2112 wrote:

Forget the Tour, Giro & Olympics, this is the Cycling story of 2012. All pay homage to Robert Marchand

+1

I'll be happy to be that fit at 60, let alone 100!

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Jim Neville [9 posts] 5 years ago
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I agree he is a superb advert for the benefits that cycling brings. I also love his cautious approach of not letting his pulse go too high. A wise man indeed. Bon chance mon ami  1

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kevinscruggs [8 posts] 5 years ago
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Very Cool Sir. You are my idol. Hope I am still riding like that in 50 years.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 2 years ago
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Amazing! Sets the goal to aim for.... I hope I look as good as he does if I even reach that age.  41

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deborah [7 posts] 4 months ago
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Very impressed as I pass into my 6th decade.  An inspiration to keep on going but adjust for age.  Chapeau!