Robert Marchand has made history by cycling more than 14 miles round a track in an hour.
The 105 year-old man set the first hour record in the over-100s category in 2012, then beat it himself two years later at the age of 102, when he covered more than 16 miles. While his distance in Wednesday’s ride was not as great as those two, the new over-105s category had been specially created for him to reflect the magnitude of his feat.
Cheered by hundreds of fans, the Frenchman completed 92 laps round the velodrome at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, near Paris.
“I did not see the sign warning me I had 10 minutes left,” said Marchand. “Otherwise I would have gone faster, I would have posted a better time. I’m now waiting for a rival.”
Marchand’s fans chanted “Robert, Robert” as he neared the end of the ride and gave him a standing ovation at its conclusion, before he was mobbed by TV crews.
“He could have been faster but he made a big mistake. He has stopped eating meat over the past month after being shocked by recent reports on how animals are subjected to cruel treatment,” his physiologist, Veronique Billat, told the Associated Press.
Marchand was born in Amiens, near the frontline of the first world war, three years before its outbreak. He worked as a firefighter in later life, before going to live in Venezuela and Canada.
Back in France in the 1960s, Marchand made a living through various jobs that left him with no time to practise sports. He was 68 when he began a series of cycling feats.
While Marchand is not making plans for the future, his coach, Gerard Mistler, said he would not be surprised to see him continue cycling. “Setting goals for himself is part of his personality,” he said. “If he tells me he wants to improve his record, I’ll be game. Robert is a great example for all of us.”