SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France (Reuters) – A French centenarian, Robert Marchand, made cycling history on Wednesday by covering 22.528 km (14.08 miles) in one hour on a track near Paris at the age of 105.
Marchand has a huge following in France and was cheered on by hundreds of fans as he rode round the velodrome at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, clad in yellow and blue with the number 105 on his back.
However, he fell short of his own previous best of 26.927 km in the over-100s category, which he set in 2014 at the age of 102 years old.
Marchand, a tiny, bird-like figure, beamed at his success after his one-man race was over, telling journalists he could have done better.
“I didn’t see the notice telling me I had 10 minutes left,” he said. “If I had, I would have been a bit quicker. I would have done better.”
He said he would celebrate by having “a bite to eat with all my pals.”
He was philosophical when asked if he would turn out again on the track in two years time. “You are nine months in the making. But it takes you only 30 seconds to drop dead,” he said.
Born in 1911 in northern France, Marchand started riding a bike when he was 14 but only took up cycling seriously when he was 67.
He trained for six months for his performance on Wednesday.
In 2012, when he was 100, he set a record for his age of covering 100 kms in four hours, 17 minutes and 27 seconds.
(Reporting by Noemie Olive and Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Richard Lough)