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Frenchman who entered first race 88 years ago rides 26.925km to beat previous distance by 10 per cent

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.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.