With the 2018 UCI MTB World Championships just over four weeks away, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot is putting the final touches on her hunt for a second cross country gold medal. The French champion, who defended her national title three weeks ago, takes confidence, a positive focus but no pressure going into the championships to be held 5-9 September in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
“I’m feeling really good with my preparations and my shape at this point of the season,” said Ferrand-Prévot as she counts down to the world championships.
The 25-year-old mapped out her race program with CANYON//SRAM Racing at the start of the season, knowing that after the Women’s WorldTour race, La Course by Le Tour de France in mid-July, she would focus solely on MTB in the lead up to the world championships.
“I’m fortunate to have a team that supports my program for MTB. Our sport is getting more and more professional. If I want to be world champion in Lenzerheide, I have to work more on MTB, especially as the worlds get closer. In these weeks, I am doing more specific training with a focus on skill and intensity on my mountain bike.”
Ferrand-Prévot’s upcoming program will include the European championships tomorrow 7 August and Les Ménuires French Cup on 17 August, before racing La Bresse World Cup two weeks before the world championships.
“I want to have the best preparation possible. The last three races are spaced well. I’m at home now, where I can train, eat and rest exactly as I want and until now everything is perfect.”
With a gold medal in 2015, and her bronze medal performance at last year’s 2017 world championships in Cairns, Australia, Ferrand-Prévot points out that her preparations for a world title have never been the same over the past four years.
“It’s hard to compare one preparation to the other as each year has been very different. When I won in 2015 I was on a roll and in great form. In 2016 I didn’t even start. In 2017, I was completely out of shape at the start of the season. I struggled at times and it took a lot of work to get back to the highest level, but the season ended with a podium in Cairns.”
“This year I was already in super shape in March in the first world cup in Stellenbosch. I’ve had two podiums at Nové Mêsto and Val di Sole. I’m going into Lenzerheide to try to win the gold medal. That’s my goal. I think it’s realistic, but at the same time I’m not putting pressure on myself. With my preparations now I know I will be in top shape for the end of the season and I’m excited to see what happens. It’s excitement not stress.”
Instead of feeling the pressure to win Ferrand-Prévot says she is enjoying the process ahead of the world championships.
“I really love cycling. But what I love even more is getting prepared for a special event. I like to train and to try to do everything good to be the best on D-day, the exact day that I need to be. After an important event, I always feel a bit nostalgic about the previous month and all of the preparation I have done.”
“Of course, there are times when I’m wondering what I’m doing,” joked Ferrand-Prévot.
“I now realise that’s normal. I live in the south of France, 2km from the sea. It’s hard to see all of the people on holidays, eating ice cream and laying on the beach while I’m training in the heat. I feel envious. But I don’t have that feeling very often. It comes and then it goes quickly because I really enjoy what I am doing.”
“I feel lucky to be a professional cyclist. Before 2017 I only wanted to win races, nothing more. Now I still like to win, and I hope that’s what happens in Lenzerheide, but I’m also enjoying the preparation and the sport. Seeing people on holidays at the beach and being okay with it because I chose this career, I know my goals and the preparation I need to do to achieve those, and I’m loving it!”