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105-year-old Frenchman pedals into history books

PARIS: A 105-year-old French cyclist set a new one-hour record for his age Wednesday — although Robert Marchand was already in a class all of his own.

Marchand pedalled for 22.547 kilometres (14.01 miles) in the national velodrome in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines west of Paris to the cheers of hundreds of spectators — and when he had finished he said he could have gone faster.

“I didn’t see the sign saying there were 10 minutes to go, otherwise I would have speeded up,” the wiry champion told a scrum of reporters who surrounded him afterwards.

Marchand dismounted and although his coach put his arm around him, he walked off the track without difficulty.

When a reporter asked if he was going to do another lap, he said emphatically: “No!”

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“I feel emotional — and I’m even asking myself if all this is real!” said Marchand, who was born in 1911, three years before World War I began.

Age is slowing him though — three years ago he managed to ride 26.927 km in one hour, a record for someone aged over 100.

There is no known mark for someone of 105, so Marchand truly blazed a trail on Wednesday.

The former national gymnastics champion, boxer and firefighter attributes his enduring fitness to a healthy diet — and lots of exercise.

“I’ve done sport all my life, eaten loads of fruit and vegetables, not too much coffee,” he said before the record attempt.

“I do between 10 and 20 kilometres a day (cycling), but I don’t train outside. I’m afraid I might catch flu!”

 

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