Cycling: “I rode with the French champion… priests!”


It was an impromptu cycling outing, organized on the roads of my childhood with the president of my first club, the Vélo Club Giennois (Loiret). At the time, I was a young cadet eager for bouquets, this time I come with my two-wheeler equipped with a triathlete’s handlebars, in all that he has more amateur. Pierre promised me a “small 100 terminals” in Sologne with a group of cyclists, Sunday runners engaged “in GS (Editor’s note: great sportsmen) », The category of over 65s.

I put on my vintage world champion outfit, with the Peugeot logo, covered with a raincoat bought at the top of Alpe d’Huez. The meeting is fixed on the place of the church of Ouzouer-sur-Loire. That should have put me on the alert. At 9 a.m. sharp, the peloton was there, less supplied than usual due to the fine autumn rain, but very ready to do battle.

” Hi ! Me, it’s Stéphane, a triathlete very happy to share your outing… ”“ Hello, me, it’s Robert, 68 years old, and still on the bike to try to win races! “He is the French champion of priests, Robert Leroy, you will see, he still has the potato”, informs me Pierre. “You surprise me that I know him Robert, he has been scouring the local races for years. In the Journal de Gien for the week, I saw again that he had done 7th on Sunday… ”“ They ranked me 7th, but in fact I finished 12th or 13th, the person concerned tells me modestly. No doubt God gave me a little helping hand… ”The discussion is launched, the exit too.

Ten kilometers to warm up, and a first village on the horizon. As with my usual training comrades in the Chevreuse valley (Yvelines), I attack 200 meters to “make the sign”, the imaginary line drawn at the entrance to the town. “Hey, kid, aren’t you going to do them all to us?” In the next village, the message got through. It is Robert Leroy himself who stands on the pedals to “slam” his sign! Bursts of laughter in the peloton.

700,000 kilometers on the odometer since 1971

It must be said that the abbot has beautiful remains. When he is not in one of his 13 parishes or in contact with the faithful, the former 1st category pedal on the roads of the region. Robert Leroy has posted some 700,000 kilometers on the clock since his beginnings in 1971.

Coming out of a small wood, bordered by a duck pond, he reminds me that two years ago, he “fought to save the 19th French Clergy Cycling Championship” of which he is the ‘one of the conductors. The ordeal was threatened because an elected official refused to pay a subsidy of 6000 euros yet promised. Supported by two local cycling clubs, including the Free Wheel … Benedictine, Father Leroy had to pedal without counting to complete the financing of this strange event bringing together, every May 1, priests, deacons, seminarians and maids. sisters, all fans of God and cycling.

“A socialist wanted to put a stick in the wheels, but we found a solution thanks to appeals for donations”, explains to me the ecclesiastic of Sully-sur-Loire, who won the title three times (2003, 2007 and 2013). During the confinement, the man of faith also familiarized himself with the video “by giving mass via social networks. But he didn’t subscribe to the urge to film himself pedaling his indoor bike. “For that, I leave room for real champions”, concludes this fan of Pierre Rolland (Vital Concept), the pro rider from Loiret with whom he has sometimes shared his outings. An honor which, this time, was reserved for me …

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