Update: 100 year old Frenchman smashes 100km record
"I did better than expected" he says, coming in more than 40 minutes faster than he hoped
A French centenarian has won his age group record for the 100km cycle, frinishing 300 laps of a velodrome in Lyon, southeast France, in 4 hours, 17 minutes, 27 seconds, averaging 23.305 km/h.
With a time that would please many a quarter of his age, the 100 year old Robert Marchand told reporters, "I did better than I expected".
Yesterday he said that he wanted to come in under five hours.
To put his speed into perspective, last February he kept up a 24.251 kph pace to set the world hour record for his age group in Switzerland.
"He's an example for humanity, he gives people hope," said Gerard Mistler, the president of Marchand's cycling club
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.