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The current time in Athens is 21:29 on September 23, 2023
Olympic Cycling News for August 19, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Admittedly disappointed having missed out on the medals in both the women's road race and time trial in Athens, Jeannie Longo knows how to remain philosophical about the experience. Longo placed 10th in the road race and 14th in the time trial, but she'll be the last person to blame the results on her age. The 45 year old remains the most accomplished female rider, and continues to accumulate victories over women half her age.
"That's very French, to make such a big deal of someone's age," she told Reuters. "You start to feel your age after 25. When you're halfway through your life, there are plenty of things to appreciate. You become more philosophical."
Changes in competition have steadily changed Longo's chances in races at the highest calibre. No longer does she aim for the double of road and track events in the Olympic Games, and after her modest performance in the Athens time trial, tests against the clock would appear less of an objective.
"For the past two years I haven't done many World Cups and no more big stage races," she explained. "I don't have the endurance anymore.
"In the time trial I didn't have much of a chance against women who have developed a lot more power than me," Longo confessed. "The winning riders: Leontien Zijlaard, Deirdre Demet-Barry, Karin Thürig... I predicted them. At least that shows that I know my opponents well... But I'm convinced I could have done something on the road. Maybe not a medal, but not far off."
As for the future, no hints of retirement are coming from the Longo camp. The 'grande dame' of French cycling expects to represent her country once more at the upcoming World Championships in Verona, Italy. Beyond that, options are open, including... The 2008 Olympics?
"I don't know. If I'm invited, and I can be useful at the Games, why not?"
Spain's José Ivan Gutierrez (Illes Balears-Banesto), who contested both the Olympic road and time trial events in Athens, confessed after his ride Wednesday that he was on the brink of abandoning halfway through his effort. Gutierrez crashed heavily in the opening kilometres of Saturday's road race, involved in the same pile up which eliminated teammate Igor Astarloa and began a dark day for Spain, one of the favoured nations for the Olympic title. Heavily bandaged, he rallied to start the time trial and ultimately finished 16th, nearly three minutes behind gold medal winner Tyler Hamilton.
"I was on the verge of quitting," Gutierrez confessed," but then I saw [Evgeni] Petrov ahead of me and I followed him because I'm always proud to catch someone," Gutierrez told the Spanish press.
"In the first few days after my crash, I was recovering well," he added. "But Tuesday I felt bad and Wednesday I really was in bad shape... In the second lap I was better, but I still lacked power. My legs just didn't respond."
Gutierrez will now set his sights on the World Time Trial Championships in Verona, Italy at the end of next month.
With his silver medal performance behind Paolo Bettini in the men's Olympic road race, Portugal's Sergio Paulinho has become a sought-after man. The reigning national time trial champion, winner of two stages in this year's Tour of Portugal, is now on the radar of several top professional teams, including Manolo Saiz's Liberty Seguros squad in Spain. Paulinho currently rides for LA-Pecol, with a contract through 2005, meaning any jump to a Pro Tour team for 2005 would likely require a buyout of his contract.
Paulinho, while not a complete unknown in the peloton, surprised many with his impressive reaction to Bettini's race-winning move in Athens. As the odds-on favourite for the Olympic title attacked on the penultimate climb, all of the likely challengers were present but only Paulinho could follow the move. He worked effectively with Bettini to make the break stick, but in the end couldn't answer the determined Italian's sprint in the closing metres.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)