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United States >> Record-setting cyclist Robert Marchand dies aged 109

Record-setting cyclist Robert Marchand dies aged 109

Robert Marchand, aged 109, died yesterday at a care facility in Mitry-Mory, France, outside Paris

Record-setting cyclist Robert Marchand dies aged 109

Mr. Marchand was still riding his exercise bike 20 minutes a day until recently.

Mr. Marchand, who was born Nov. 26, 1911, in the northern French city of Amiens. 

In his younger year's he was told by a coach to give up cycling, because his small size would prevent him from achieving success. He stood 5 feet tall and weighed 115 pounds.

Mr. Marchand traveled extensively, working as a truck driver in Venezuela in the late 1940s, then as a lumberjack in Canada. He had also been a firefighter.

Back in France in the 1960s, he held various jobs that left him with no time for sports, but he eventually took up his bicycle when he was 68 and accomplished a remarkable series of cycling feats.

He cycled from Paris to Moscow in 1992 and set the 100-kilometer (62.14-mile) record for cyclists past the age of 100.

In January 2017, he set a world record in the 105-plus age category — created especially for him — by riding 22.54 kilometers (14 miles) in one hour on the boards of the Vélodrome National near Paris.

“I’m now waiting for a rival,” he said at the time.

Three years earlier, Mr. Marchand had covered 26.92 kilometers (16.73 miles) in one hour to better his own world record in the over-100s category.

Mr. Marchand, a longtime supporter of the French Communist Party, lived by himself in a small apartment until recently. Last September, his family placed him in an elderly care facility.

“Until last week, he was really in a better form,” Timera, the director of Les Acacias residence in Mitry-Mory, “In addition to his physiotherapy, he kept pedaling 20 minutes a day on his exercise bike. We were all really impressed; he achieved things we could not.”

Timera said Mr. Marchand’s family had been informed in recent days that he appeared to have weakened and “was arriving at the end of the race.”

Timera described Mr. Marchand as a good-humored bon vivant “who loved eating chocolate and drinking his glass of wine.”

According to his coach and friend Gerard Mistler, Mr. Marchand owed his longevity to a healthy lifestyle: eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, not smoking and exercising on a daily basis.

Mr. Marchand never pushed his limits, went to bed at 9 p.m. and woke up at 6 a.m.

To stay fit, Marchand rode every day on his home trainer and put himself through outdoor training sessions on the road when the weather was good enough. He did not watch much TV, apart from the Tour de France.