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Emile Brichard
Emile Brichard
Birth: 20 December 1899
Arsimont, Namur, Belgium
Death: 8 July 2004
Villers-Poterie, Hainaut, Belgium
Age: 104 years, 201 days
Country: BelgiumBEL
Centenarian

Emile Brichard (20 December 1899 – 8 July 2004) was a Belgian centenarian and cyclist. Brichard participated in the Tour de France in 1926, and was also known for being the penultimate surviving Belgian veteran of World War I.

Biography

Brichard was born in Arsimont, Namur, Belgium on 20 December 1899. During World War I, Brichard escaped together with his parents to Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom, where he went to work in a factory producing soldiers boots. He joined the British Army in 1915, joining the medical corps, serving at De Panne.

After the war, Brichard went to work as a miner, and started to pursue cycling in his leisure time, where he mainly participated in local cycling competitions in the Namur and Henegouwen provinces of Belgium. Although he became a skilled cyclist, a competition victory would continuously elude him. In 1926 he joined the 'Alcyon-Dunlop cycling crew as an assistant to Adelin Benoit.

Brichard was selected for the 1926 Tour de France, which would enter the history books as the longest ever edition of the race. Brichard had to abandon the tour in the first stage from Evian-les-Bains to Mulhouse, due to a leaking tyre, as he had already consumed all his spare tyres. He continued to race for a few more years, while also continuing to work in the mines. In 1930 he retired from both cycling and the mining industry, and opened his own liquer and wine distillery and shop.

Brichard remained anonymous until the start of the 21st century, when he was discovered to be one of few remaining survivors of the first World War. In 2004 he was interviewed as the oldest living Tour de France participant, in connection with that years tour which included the south of Belgium and even passed his own home town of Villers-Poterie.

Brichard died just a few days after the tour had exited Belgium in Villers-Poterie, Hainaut, Belgium on 8 July 2004 at the age of 104 years, 201 days. Following her death, Cyriel Barbary (1899–2004) of Detroit, Michigan became the last known Belgian veteran of the First World War.

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References

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