Swiss cyclist Stéphane Cand finished his solo Guinness World record attempt in Mouland (Fourons, Liège province) on Saturday afternoon.
He travelled through sixteen countries in six days, cycling a total of more than 2,200km. He covered more than 300km a day and only slept three to four hours per night. He beat the previous record of fourteen countries in seven days set by Polish cyclist Marek Dzienisiuk.
The cyclist from Seiry (Fribourg Canton) set off from the Czech Republic on Sunday. He travelled through Slovakia, Serbia, Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Liechtenstein, Germany, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. His six-day journey through 16 countries finished at the Mouland border at 1.10 PM on Saturday. He had originally planned to do the trip in seven days.
“I got every type of weather you can think of. It was 44 degrees in Hungary and sometimes only three degrees going downhill. I didn’t think I was going to do it, but I’m very happy I did. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, although my main aim was just to travel and enjoy it. I’m still in shock, it’s just hitting me now that I actually did it in seven days instead of six,” Cand said.
Most of the final 100km was in Belgium. He went through Saint-Vith, Malmedy, Jalhay, Verviers, Herve and Fourons, where his family and friends were waiting. “I was surprised by the state of the roads, with the Ardennes classics being so well-known I thought they would be better.”
It was also the first time the 47-year-old athlete had been to Eastern European. Hungary was his favourite. “I was pleasantly surprised, there is less traffic and the Hungarians are really friendly and welcoming,” Cand said.
There were a few moments of doubt, but the most difficult moments were surprisingly not during the record attempt itself. “I lost a bit of time because of the heatwave in the East, I had to make a detour in Switzerland because of roadworks and I got a flat tyre. But the most difficult moment was on the aeroplane to Austria before I had even started. You begin to doubt yourself and start to get stressed,” he admitted. “In the end, everything went fine and I enjoyed every moment of it.”
A doctor helped him prepare himself mentally and physically for the trip. “I worked closely with the doctor when it came to food and sleep. I was told to eat salty food while on the road and tests showed that two and a half hours of sleep was enough to cycle for the rest of the day. I did have to cycle for 36 hours non-stop because of delays, but everything went fine.”
Cand cycles 140km every day to get to work and that experience helped.
“The vélotaf and the 16,000 kilometres experience I have accumulated since the beginning of the year really made a difference and helped me pull this off. The fact that whether it’s raining, snowing, whatever, I get on my bike and go to work was a huge advantage,” the athlete said.
The Guinness Book of World records still has to confirm Stephane’s record. “I have to provide proof that includes photos, videos, and press articles to confirm my record,” he said.
He has a new goal for next year. This time he will cross Europe, leaving Cap Nord in Norway and finishing in the south of Spain. He hopes to hit all the European capitals.
The Brussels Times