100 years, 100 kilometres

At the age of 100, French cyclist Robert Marchand has set a new age-group world record for the fastest 100 kilometres on the track. The new time stands at 4 hours 17 minutes 27 seconds and was set at the Tete-d'Or Velodrome in Lyons, France. The time has been ratified by the French National Cycling Federation.

At the age of 100, French cyclist Robert Marchand has set a new age-group world record for the fastest 100 kilometres on the track. The new time stands at 4 hours 17 minutes 27 seconds and was set at the Tete-d'Or Velodrome in Lyons, France. The time has been ratified by the French National Cycling Federation.

Before the attempt he spoke to journalists. "I don't do it to become a champion, I do it to show that even at 100 years old you can still cycle." He has always looked after his physical condition, doing exercises to keep himself in shape. He also puts his longevity down to avoiding smoking, and indulging in other activities thought to be damaging to health only in moderation.

This is not his first cycling record. In February he set a record for the furthest distance cycled in one hour on the track - 24.25 km - at the International Cycling Union velodrome in Aigle, Switzerland.

When told that he is regarded as a phenomenon, he is adamant that he isn't, he is just an ordinary chap, with no more potential than other people, with ordinary capabilities. However, he appears nothing like most 100 year olds, with a physical form that would, according to the Inserm public research instate in Switzerand where he goes for tests and observations every three months, be worthy of a 55-year-old.  His secret is no secret; he works at it, maintaining his conditioning in order to be able to carry on doing his sport by doing sit-ups, upper body exercises, lower-body exercises - hard work, in other words. It is something he is accustomed to since during his working life he was amongst other things a gym instructor, a weightlifter and boxer.

He only took up cycling at 67, in 1978, and cycles around now 7,000 km per year. He has been a regular participant in the Ardechoise, one of cycling's 'cyclosportive' events (mass-participation, not-necessarily-competitive cycling events in the spirit of the great Tours such as Tour de France) since it was established in 1992. As far as the future goes, he's taking it day by day - or rather month by month, as a day isn't a lot of time in the life of a centenarian - and is limiting himself now to rides of not more than 100 kms. After all, he doesn't want to go overboard!