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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.

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.