Robert Marchand, the French centenarian who earlier this year broke the age group world record for The Hour, is aiming to break another record – this time for riding 100 kilometres faster than anyone his age has ever managed before.
Today, Marchand, who will turn 101 in November, aims to cover the distance in less than five hours with an average speed of 22.5 kilometres an hour, reports Yahoo! Eurosport.
"If I make it, I'll become the best in the world," he said, "I know that all over the world, in China, in the United States, in Russia, they're already looking for someone to beat my record."
The distance shouldn’t prove too much for Marchand, who lives in Mitry-Mory near Paris. Earlier this year, he revealed: “For the last five years I have decided not to go for rides of more than 100km. There is no point going overboard. I want to keep cycling for some time yet.”
He has ridden the Ardèchoise every year since the sportive was launched in 1992, when he was aged 79, and even has a mountain pass in the area named after him, the Col Robert Marchand, which has an elevation of 911 metres – the last three digits of his year of birth.
Marchand, a former gym instructor to the Paris fire brigade who also boxed and was a decent weightlifter in his younger days, has attracted the attention of scientists keen to find out what lies behind his vitality.
Every three months, he undergoes tests at the Inserm public research institute in Switzerland.
"They told me I had the constitution of a 55-year-old man, they think it's genetic," he explained.
"I have never deprived myself of anything: not wine, not food, not women, but always with moderation."
When asked if he planned to get any artificial help for his ride, Marchand insisted: "The only doping for me is water with a spoonful of honey that I put in my canteen - and that's it."
"If I was doping, though, maybe I could hit 35 km/h," he added.
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.