Robert Marchand, the French centenarian cyclist and the hour record holder for the 100+ and 105+ age groups, died on May 22, 2021, at the age of 109, at a care facility in Mitry-Mory, France.

Robert Marchand dies aged 109
Robert Marchand (26 November 1911 – 22 May 2021) was the holder of the world record for cycling 100 km and hour record (for the distance cycled in one hour), in both the 100+ and 105+ years old age categories.

The 109-year-old cyclist from Seine-et-Marne Robert Marchand died in his sleep on the night of Friday to Saturday, May 22 in the nursing home where he lived in Mitry-Mory (Seine-et-Marne).

Charlotte Blandiot-Faride (PCF), mayor of Mitry-Mory has said that “Robert was a great champion, someone who made you dream and who kept his head on his shoulders. He was also a friend, someone very committed to unions and politically on the left! It was the image of our city”.

Marchand had bequeathed to the city many objects such as a bicycle, jerseys, press clippings, etc., all presented in a perpetual exhibition at the Ostermeyer gymnasium in Mitry.

Robert Marchand: a life dedicated to cycling

Robert Marchand (26 November 1911 – 22 May 2021) was born in Amiens, France, near the frontline of World War 1. He remembered the entry of German troops with peaked helmets into the streets of his hometown, in the summer of 1914.

He was a firefighter in Paris in the 1930s. He was riding his bicycle regularly.

He was a communist militant during World War II. He then fleed to Venezuela and became a sugar cane planter in Venezuela for eight years.

In the 1950s he went to Canada, where he had a job as a lumberjack. He returned to France in 1960 and became a market gardener, shoe seller, and wine dealer until 1987.

In 1978, at the age of 67, he rediscovered his passion for cycling when he bought his first bike since he was young, building up the distances and training with riders who were far younger than he was.

He finally retired from work at 89 years of age and rode the Bordeaux-Paris event around that time. He covered the 600 kilometers in 36 hours.

As a bicycle fan, Marchand has been able to follow from near or far 98 Tours de France.

Robert Marchand died on May 22, 2021, during the night from Friday to Saturday, at the age of 109, at a care facility in Mitry-Mory, France. At the time of his death, he was one of the oldest remaining World War II veterans.

Cycling career

  • Aged 35, Robert Marchand finished seventh in the Grand Prix des Nations in 1946.
  • In February 2012, he set a world record in one-hour track cycling in the over-100 age group at 24.250 kilometers (15.068 mi).
  • He improved this hour record to 26.927 kilometers (16.732 mi) in January 2014.
  • On November 26, 2014, he celebrated his 103rd birthday by climbing the col named after him – Col Robert Marchand (altitude: 911 meters).
  • On 4 January 2017, Robert Marchand set a world record in one-hour track cycling in the over-105 age group, covering 22.547 kilometers (14.010 mi) in one hour, and the 105-year-old centenarian declared: “I could have done better if I had seen the 10-minute warning card, otherwise I would have pedaled slightly faster”.
  • At the age of 105, he was recognized as the world’s oldest competitive cyclist by Guinness World Records.

After he turned 106, Robert Marchand’s doctors advised him to stop competing for world records. He obliged but refused to quit racing completely. In early February 2018, Marchand completed a 4,000-meter race in the same velodrome where he made his last record.

Marchand celebrated his 107th birthday by going for a 20-kilometer (12.5 miles) bike ride in the Ardèche (a department in southeast France known for its forests and trails).

After his 108th birthday, Marchand stopped riding bikes outdoors due to hearing loss.


M. Özgür Nevres

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