SAINT-Amand-les-Eaux, France (AFP) — Veteran French cyclist Jeannie Longo’s dream of competing in the London Olympics faded on Thursday as she lost her national women’s time-trial title to Pauline Ferrand-Prevot.
The 53-year-old Longo finished fifth in the 26.8km race, 1 minute and 5 seconds behind Ferrand-Prevot.
Isabelle Gautheron of the French cycling federation said it would now be “very, very complicated” for Longo to be included in the French team for the London Games.
“I said that if she won the time trial, she was in a favorable position. Here she isn’t on the podium so it’s going to be very, very complicated for her. Unless on Saturday she wins the road race,” said Gautheron.
Longo has won 59 national titles, including the last four time trials, 13 world titles and an Olympic gold in road racing in 1996.
She has, however, seen her reputation tainted by doping allegations in recent months.
Her husband and coach, Patrice Ciprelli, admitted earlier this year that he had been buying the banned blood booster EPO since 2007, but insisted it was for his personal use.
The number of places available in France’s squad will be known in late May, with the final squad to be announced on July 5.
Longo has participated in every Olympic Games since the program added a women’s road race during the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. American Connie Carpenter won that inaugural competition.
In the men’s event, Sylvain Chavanel won his fourth national time trial title over a 48.5km course, 13 seconds ahead of Jérémy Roy. Chanavel also won in 2005, 2006 and 2008.
“The parcour was completely flat,” Chavanel said. “It wasn’t easy to interpret. For the entire time trial my heartset didn’t work, so I had no point of reference. In the last part I went full gas, even if in the last three kilometers I had to fight against the rain. Roy did a great race. He was strong even in (Tour de) Suisse. I knew he would be a competitor.”