Legend of French cycling, Jeannie Longo, triple winner of the women’s Tour de France in the 1980s, points “a few teams too many, not having the best international level” on the Great Loop, of which she still makes Annemiek van Vleuten the favorite, before the decisive weekend in the Vosges, in a telephone interview with AFP.
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Does Annemiek van Vleuten remain the favorite despite being a minute and a half behind Marianne Vos?
She will go all out in the last two stages. It is only on this ground that she can express herself correctly. She has the means to take a few minutes. I think she must not be very comfortable in this platoon of 144 elements with these disparities in level.
Could this explain some falls?
There are, in my opinion, a few teams too many, teams that do not have the best international level with young people who rub shoulders with no room for manoeuvre. They pass with barely room for the handlebars, so inevitably it touches everywhere. Some may have a lack of attention too. Women who come full force into a peloton on the ground like Monday, that’s not normal. In my opinion, 144 runners at the start is a lot. But falls still happen.
“We had the roads completely to ourselves”
Are the organization and the means superior to the Tour of the 1980s?
No, we had the roads completely to ourselves, the Republican Guard bikers for transfers and everything. It was great, we had the best in terms of organization. The men’s Tour July audience was there for us too. The first two years, people didn’t even know that there was a Women’s Tour (as a curtain raiser, editor’s note) because there was no communication this year. But then they came on purpose, even strangers came to encourage their own. It was a desire to stop the women’s Tour de France. It was said that it was complicated, that it cost money. Organizations in general, when there is a moment of economic weakness, they keep the gentlemen, the top of the pack, and abandon what pays a little less.
Is it always the risk?
I met famous and wonderful women such as Antoinette Fouque or Simone Veil. They always said to me: “You have to be careful because there are euphoric years during which they take care of ourselves, but it falls off quickly”. One has the impression that the man is swallowing his pride by saying “We need women” but that is not a given, it is never definitively acquired.
Marc Madiot? ” He evolved “
We can no longer imagine Marc Madiot saying that a “woman on a bicycle is ugly” as he told you in 1987 on television…
He evolved, he was a young man in the peloton. I could cite others. Some of them didn’t particularly appreciate that I was put forward and that women did the same things as them. They were giants of the road and we arrived like little tarmac dwarfs, as I called us at the time.
A dwarf with an immense track record, with five world titles in road racing (1985-1987, 1989, 1995), three Tours de France (1987-1989) and an Olympic title (1996)… What is the best memory?
They are different. With the Olympic title, I had the impression that everything changed. It was like a pass. The gaze of people changes completely, it’s the planet that looks at you. During the Olympics, the public watches all disciplines, all sports. But it was a lot of emotions to arrive on the Champs-Élysées in yellow, too. I don’t remember if I paraded with Pedro Delgado. But with Greg (LeMond) and Stephen (Roche), yes. With Stephen, it was both our big year (1987), we did the double Tour de France and World Championship.