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Re: Long Lives
« on: February 04, 2021, 23:52 »
Gilbert Desmet celebrated his 90th birthday, last Tuesday (3 February).

He's been the older Paris-Tours winner (1958) since Jacques Dupont passed away in 2019 and the oldest winner of the Walloon Arrow 1964 since Ferdi Kübler passed away (2016). Henri De Wolf won the race two years earlier and is still alive but he's a bit younger (born in 1936). He won 100 races.

He ought not to be confused with Gilbert De Smet (1936-1987) who was racing at the same period as him but whose name is slightly different. Sometimes they were referred to as Gilbert Desmet I and Gilbert Desmet II just like the *dd Lothar Meister I (who has just turned 90 as well  :cool) and Lothar Meister II (who passed away in 2019 at age 91).

He's been made a citizen of honour in his hometown of Lichtervelde (situated in West Flanders between Roeselaere and Bruges), on this birthday. Still looking fit! (it seems he's still swimming !) But the celebration was held in small circle due to the pandemic. The sport centre of Lichtervelde is now also renamed after him. 

The day before his Arrow win, Gilbert Desmet only ate a sandwich with jam as breakfast and as lunch and diner, buttermilk pudding. His wife had prepared pink salmon for him but he refused. He knew his body very well and knew that he raced better on an empty stomach. He then went on drop Jan Janssen and Peter Post in the final climb.

Gilbert Desmet was also in the midst of a controversy at the 1963 Worlds as he was one of the riders who disputed Van Looy's leadership in the Belgian team. Desmet was one of Van Looy's leadout men but deliberately cut his effort earlier than planned, leaving Rik Van Looy in the wind too early, which benefitted Benoni Beheyt. Beheyt and Desmet both raced for Wiel's Groene Leeuw and Beheyt married Desmet's cousin.

Gilbert Desmet married Maria Devos in 1954 and five years later, they raised a café called "Parijs-Tours" after the classic that he had just won and till then his greatest win. Maria was then the head of it as Gilbert was still an active rider. He kept it open until 1991. Gilbert and Maria will hopefully celebrate their 67 wedding anniversary this year.

That's for speakers of Dutch, no time for a whole translation but it's very funny.  :lol

Just wanted to share with you the wishes from Victor Campenaerts at 12.30 and Jonas Ryckaert at 12.55 :

Yo Gilbert ! I am Victor Campenaerts. Hour record holder ! I'm sending you a message for your 90th birthday. That's very rare. Just like your impressive palmares. Everybody would sign for it straight. Enjoy your birthday ! Cheers, bye bye.

Hello Gilbert. First and foremost a happy birthday. Judging from your age, cycling is a very healthy sport. We have two things in common : the love for the sport of cycling and Lichtervelde, since my girlfriend was born and raised there. With the love for the sport and for Lichtervelde, I hope that I can also reach age 90 myself. Enjoy your birthday and be healthy !

Then Jelle Wallays also shared his wishes but I did not understand anything.  :lol Also Tim Declercq and Yves Lampaert !

Former riders like José De Cauwer, Willy Van Neste, Freddy Maertens, Patrick Lefevere, Jean-Baptiste Claes, Yvo Molenaers. Claes hopes that he becomes 100.  :D Molenaers is confident that they will survive the pandemic.


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