Pauline Ferrand-Prévot returned to the winner’s circle today in spectacular fashion after she won the UCI Mercedes Benz MTB World Cup in Val Di Sole, Italy. It’s the CANYON//SRAM Racing rider’s first MTB World Cup victory since 2015 and caused a powerful response from Ferrand-Prévot after her victory.
“For sure I’m emotional. It’s my first international victory since 2015 and a lot has happened in the last three years. It hasn’t been easy but it also hasn’t been easy for the people that support me, my sponsors and my family,” said Ferrand-Prévot after the podium ceremony.
“Plenty of people are around you when you’re winning, but in the tough moments, it’s different. This is a reward for me and my hard work, but also for those that have continued to support and believe in me. This is what has made me emotional. Later tonight, when I get my moment alone to take this in, I’m quite sure there will be some happy tears!”
The French MTB national champion took an early lead on the challenging five lap course, extending her advantage from 20 to close to 40 seconds by the third lap. Her lead fell in the penultimate lap and Ferrand-Prévot was overtaken in the final lap by Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory). The duo battled for the remainder of the race, where Ferrand-Prévot took the upper hand to win in a nail biting sprint finish.
“I wanted to take a good start to be at the front in order to choose my own line. I was pushing on the uphill and I could see that I was strong on the uphill. I went with Jolanda and Kate (Courtney), but I saw immediately Kate was not that good in the downhill,” explained Ferrand-Prévot.
“I said ‘okay, I will try to keep with the wheel of Jolanda and then we see what happens’. On the uphill I was stronger, so I just went. I knew that Jolanda was coming back on the fourth lap and then all of a sudden she was there with me.”
“I knew that I had to pass on the top before the last downhill. We sprinted until the top of this section, and I was happy that I passed her again to come in front for the downhill. I was just focused on not making mistakes and to try to recover as much as I could for the final sprint,” added Ferrand-Prévot.
With the flat final 200m of the course, Ferrand-Prévot kept her lead, sprinting into the final u-turn corner with 100m to go, and despite being pushed to the very end, won the race by more than two bike lengths.
“I thought that I would be stronger in the sprint, but to be able to do it, and to win a World Cup, it’s just an amazing feeling!”
The win came after her third place in the Short Track World Cup on Friday evening in Val Di Sole. Ferrand-Prévot will now race at the MTB World Cup in Lenzerheide, Switzerland next weekend as part of her final preparation for the MTB world championships at the end of August.
“I’ll race in Lenzerheide and then after one short week at home, I will go to Canada to prepare for the world championships in Mont Saint-Anne.”
After achieving her goal of winning a world cup in 2019, Ferrand-Prévot now looks to her next goal, the MTB world championships, but with an air of relaxed confidence.
“Now comes the biggest goal of the year. I’m feeling good; I’m better and better each week. I’m in good shape physically but also mentally. I’m calm and relaxed. I want go to Mont Saint-Anne with the same mentality and then I’ll be able to do my best.”