Olympic dream fades as Longo loses French crown

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 after the 26.8-km race some 1min 05sec behind winner Ferrand-Prevot.

Isabelle Gautheron of the French Cycling Federation said it would now be "very, very complicated" for Longo to be included in the France team for the London Games.

"I said that if she won the time-trial, she was in a favourable 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 own, 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 cycling joined the Olympic programme in 1984.

In the men's event, Sylvain Chavanel won his fourth national time-trial title over the 48.5km course.

It followed wins in 2005, 2006 and 2008.