Pauline Ferrand-Prévot goes as one of the favorites for the medals in the women’s cross-country mountain bike event at the Tokyo Olympics after spending a season with a unique focus on adding the only element she’s missing : Olympic gold.
“I want gold, it’s the only medal I’m missing and I tend to want what I don’t have and fight for it. So that would be an endorsement,” Ferrand-Prévot said, according to Cyclism’actu .
The 29-year-old excelled in cyclocross, on the road and on mountain biking and is the only rider in history to have won elite world titles in all three disciplines – road (2014) and cyclocross and mountain biking (both in 2015) .
However, the physical and psychological pressures of this feat took an enormous toll, and the consequences fell at the worst possible time of their preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
She came back too quickly from an off-season stress fracture, she said in 2016, and then suffered from sciatica. She urged to focus on both events in Rio, but the results were disastrous. She finished 24th in the road race and gave up the MTB event.
“These Olympics were the result of a year in hell,” she said afterwards. “Cycling was my favorite thing to do, but it has become my biggest nightmare.”
In the years after Rio de Janiero, she continued to focus on racing bikes and mountain bikes, but in 2018 she was diagnosed with double endofibrosis of the iliac artery and operated on again in February 2019 and January 2020. After the Olympic Games were postponed from 2020 to 2021, Ferrand-Prévot left Canyon-SRAM and signed with Absolute Absalon-BMC with a focus on Tokyo.
Fast forward to 2021 and Ferrand-Prévot is once again traveling to the Olympics as world champion and racing favorite, but this time she has left road racing behind with the mountain bike as her only focus.
“I have learned from my previous Olympic experiences that if you run two rabbits at the same time you have to run the risk of not catching one. So I avoid skinning myself and have focused on mountain biking, which I really enjoy, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll give up on the road in the long run. “
Ferrand-Prévot’s main obstacle to the gold medal is likely to be her own teammate Loana Lecomte, who has dominated the World Cup races this season.
In an Instagram post, Ferrand-Prévot shot down any indication of a rivalry with her teammate.
“Happy and happy to be able to share this week with Loana. Some people will say we are rivals tomorrow, but I would rather say team-mates. She has allowed me to reach my best level and surpass myself over the past few months allowed me not to rest on my laurels and work on my weak points.
“I have always admired the ‘hard workers’ very much because I know how hard and sometimes ungrateful the work is. And Lolo is one of those people. So good luck for tomorrow and may the best win. ”Ferrand-Prévot wrote.