102-year-old Robert Marchand has this afternoon smashed his own age group Hour record, riding 26.925km around France’s new national velodrome at Saint Quentin en Yvelines near Paris – 10 per cent further in distance than he managed when he set his previous best two years ago at the age of 100.
Marchand’s earlier record, for a category created especially for him by the UCI, was set at the governing body’s World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland in February 2012.
That day, he rode 24.251 kilometres, saying afterwards: “I just wanted to do something for my 100th birthday.”
Remarkably, that ride came 80 years after he had last taken to the boards of a velodrome, and 86 years after his first competitive race, which he had to enter under an assumed name due to his being below the age limit for entry.
He has ridden in every edition of the Ardéchoise sportive since it was launched in 1992, when he was aged 79, and has a mountain pass named after him, the Col Robert Marchand, which is at 911 metres above sea level – the cyclist himself was born in 1911.
An article published by Le Parisien this morning has three videos of Marchand – one in which, as he turned 100 in 2012, he spoke about his love of cycling and another that looks back on his life, while the third looks at his preparations for today’s record breaking ride.
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.