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Robert Marchand celebrates 107th birthday – with 20km spin

Irrepressible ultra-centenarian went for a ride with friends in the Ardéche

Irrepressible French cyclist Robert Marchand celebrated his 107th birthday on Monday by going for a 20-kilometre bike ride in the Ardéche.

The ultra-centenarian was accompanied by 30 cyclists from the Ardéchoise association including Gérard Mistler, the co-founder and organiser of the eponymous cyclosportive.

Marchand took part in the inaugural edition in 1992 at the relatively sprightly age of 79 and remains an ambassador for the event, always sporting its yellow, purple and pink colours.

He also has a climb on the route named after him – the Col du Robert Marchand.

After Monday morning’s ride between Privas e Pouzin, Marchand had just one minor lament, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I was only sorry that I suffered from the cold, I wasn’t dressed properly for the weather.”

That didn’t stop him from enjoying a birthday party laid on in his honour following his spin.

In January last year, Marchand – who rode his first bike race more than 90 years ago under a false name because he was too young to enter – set a 105+ age group Hour Record created specially for him by the UCI, riding 22.547 kilometres.

While he retired from competitive cycling after that, he was back on the boards at the French national velodrome at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines last month, although the UCI declined to ratify any fresh record attempt due to concern about his health.

After that hour-long ride on the track, Marchand – a former gym instructor to the Paris fire brigade and who also had a spell working as a lumberjack in Canada – revealed some of the secrets of his longevity.

“I try to do a little bit of exercise every day, even if it’s just 20 minutes,” he said.

“One mustn’t let oneself go soft. The day you just sit in your armchair and stop moving, you’re screwed.”

It doesn’t look like he’ll be stopping moving that any time soon.

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.

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