French centenarian breaks own cycling speed record

Feb. 1, 2014 at 12:10 PM

PARIS, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Robert Marchand, a 102-year-old Frenchman who holds the only record for speed cycling by a centenarian, has beaten it.

Marchand cycled 26.952 kilometers (16.7 miles) in an hour Friday at the French national track at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a Paris suburb, Radio France Internationale reported.

An audience of about 300 people cheered him on and chanted "Go, Robert" to an accordion accompaniment.

"I was fine but toward the end it started to get hard," Marchand said.

The record category for the 100-plus set was created especially for Marchand, who previously cycled 24.25 kilometers (just over 15 miles) in 60 minutes.

In his younger days, Marchand had dreams of being a professional cyclist but was told he was too small.

He worked as a lumberjack in Canada and a truck driver in Venezuela, retiring as a gardener in his native country at age 89.

"He became a professional cyclist at the age at which all the people who dissuaded him from doing so were dead," his physiologist, Veronique Billat, said.

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