The "eternal" Jeannie Longo has added yet another national championship victory to what is arguably the most impressive palmarès ever in women's cycling. At 52 years of age, Longo snatched her 58th national championship crown, taking her fourth consecutive of a total of 11 victories in the women's time trial.
On the 19km-course around Boulogne-sur-Mer, Longo was 42 seconds faster than her runner-up Christel Ferrier Bruneau. Third-placed Audrey Cordon was 52 seconds down, and fourth-placed Pauline Ferrand Prévot - hailed as Longo's successor at 19 years of age - conceded 57 seconds.
Longo had been preparing to defend her title, notably in Canada and in the United States where she took part in several time trials including the Iron Horse Classic, Colorado. "I've been working the time trial a lot. Since this spring, Patrice [Ciprelli - her husband and trainer - ed.] succeeded in motivating me once again by finding time trials all over the place. It's true that it starts to get difficult finding objectives that change a little from routine," she had told L'Equipe ahead of the event, before revealing her next goal.
"I still have an eye on the Worlds in Denmark this year, it'll be pancake-flat. So I'm working a lot on raw power."
Ferrand Prévot, the new star of French women's cycling, took the start of the time trial diminished due to illness. "I got a cold last weekend," she explained afterwards. "I felt really bad and even considered not to start at the championships. But I talked to Gerard Brocks [her and Julien Absalon's trainer - ed.] this morning who told me I could still do the 19 kilometres on my 'class' be going flat out."
Ferrand Prévot clocked the best intermediate time mid-race, but then had trouble holding her pace until the end. "The first part of the parcours was good but then I had difficulties in the climb," she confirmed.