It cost $100 million to build France’s new National Velodrome in Paris, which opened on Thursday. So it’s only fitting that a cyclist over 100 years old was the one to give the venue a truly grand opening.
Today, 102-year-old Robert Marchand earned a standing ovation for breaking his own world record in the over-100 category after riding 26.927 kilometers (16.7 miles) in one hour. That effort bettered the old mark he set two years ago by more than two and a half kilometers.
“It was very good, but at the end it started to become very hard,” Marchand said afterwards according to the Associated Press. “…You have to know there are people who came from 600 kilometers away to see me today! It is incredible. That’s all I can say.”
Marchand also owns the time record for people over the age of 100 riding 100 kilometers (62 miles). He earned that particular record in 2012 at a velodrome in Lyon, France, logging a time of four hours, 17 minutes, 27 seconds over a span of 300 laps.
Cycling has been a longtime hobby for Marchand, who first started when he was 14 years old. Throughout his life, he’s had a varied list of professional jobs including turns as a firefighter, show salesman and wine dealer. He came back to cycling in 1978, when he was 67 years old.
Just before he set the centenarian record for the fastest 100km by bike two years ago, Marchand explained how he kept himself in good shape.
“All my life, I used all but I never abused, I have never smoked nor drank except for festive occasions, and in women I did not indulge too much,” he said to AFP with a laugh prior to his record run in Lyon.
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.
No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).
No. 9 Taylor Fritz and No. 12 Frances Tiafoe are the highest-seeded Americans, looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.