There can be few figures in cycling as enduring as Jeannie Longo. The French three-time Tour de France winner secured a record 11th amateur world road title at the weekend, competing in the 65-69 age group World Championship Gran Fondo time trial.
Longo completed the 22.8km course – a flat and fast out-and-back affair that the numerous British participants will have felt very much at home on – in 34 minutes 1 second. It was a 40kph (25mph) ride average that rolled away the years in the manner that Longo fans are accustomed to seeing, and placed her 1.18 ahead of British runner-up Linda Dewhurst. US rider Diane Schleicher was third, at 3.59.
Longo first started winning big in the late 1970s when she took her first French national road title. Since then she has won World Championship road races, time trials and track events, as well as the Tour de France Féminin three times in the 1980s and the Olympic Games road race in Atlanta 1996.
And the Gran Fondo time trial at Glasgow wasn’t the first title she won this year – she took her 60th national title last month at the French Masters road championships.
Longo has seen her fair share of controversy. In 2011, she faced doping charges for missing three controls within 18 months. However, she was cleared of any disciplinary proceedings because one of these violations took place when she was no longer part of the testing pool. In 1987 she served a one-month ban after testing positive for ephedrine.
In 2012, her husband and coach Patrice Ciprelli was arrested – and later given a one-year suspended sentence and a €5,800 fine – over the purchase of EPO.
Longo wasn’t the only former pro champion to pull on the special, Gran Fondo-edition rainbow jersey – former Olympic road champion and the manager of Astana Qazaqstan Alexandre Vinokourov won the men’s 50-54yrs Gran Fondo road race event. Vinokourov – who served a two-year ban after testing positive for blood doping between 2007 and 2009 – sprinted home a single second ahead of Spain’s Raul Patiño at the end of the 160km race, with Poland’s Adrian Jach a further three seconds back.
Dutch former pro Johnny Hoogerland was also in action, winning the 40-44yrs Gran Fondo road race. Hoogerland rose inauspiciously to brief fame after a crash in the 2011 Tour de France, which saw him propelled into a barbed wire fence by a race vehicle. He also won the Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2009 and the Dutch National road race in 2013.
Like all the other Gran Fondo winners, Longo, Vinokourov and Hoogerland received their own rainbow jerseys – with a twist. To differentiate it from the bone fida garment (of which Longo already has 13), the amateur Gran Fondo jersey has white stripes running through each of the rainbow bands, giving more of a rainbow pinstripe effect.