She is back in shape. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot won silver at the European Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships behind her compatriot Loana Lecomte on Saturday 20 August. Although crowned in the previous two editions, Rémoise, 30, was pleased with the color of her medal. The three-time world champion in the specialty, who until then had had a difficult season, hopes to continue her momentum in the World Championship, on August 28 in Les Gets (Haute-Savoie).
Franceinfo: sport: Are you satisfied with this second place or are you disappointed by the mechanical problems on lap three?
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot: I’m happy. I know that I am getting in shape at the right time, which is sometimes very difficult. I think I’ll be even better next week for the World Cup in France because I’m at a D+13 altitude there, so I didn’t really know how I was going to react. I felt good. Being in shape on D-day is cool, it rewards all the effort made in training.
Then, of course, I had a bit of bad luck when I was up front and went off the rails, but I can’t be disappointed. It’s still mountain biking, you have to be physically strong, but the mechanics also come into play. It would have bothered me if it was someone other than Loana. [Lecomte] who wins, so we can say it’s not as bad as it could have been.
What happened ?
I derailed and it was just impossible to get the chain back on. I tried, but it didn’t. I heard my parents behind, I saw Loana return and then I said to myself: “It’s a butcher shop” (laughs). But it was a good race, I managed to regroup to keep this second place.
You were fine before your mechanical problem. Was it part of your strategy to come out strong?
I didn’t really have a strategy because I had no idea how I was going to feel. Last week I did a Coupe de France, it was hard for me to breathe, I told myself that maybe I had made a complete mistake in my preparation. In the end I saw after a few meters that I was fine, that I could claim victory, that I could let go of Loana and that technically it was going just as well. Everything is well configured, it gives confidence for the next week.
Exactly, have you taken any orientation in view of the worlds?
It will not be the same circuit, there will be longer climbs. But when you’re fit, you’re fit everywhere! So it will still be a great battle with Loana, also in France, at home, it will be great. She is a very good girl and the competition between us is healthy.
Have you changed anything in your preparation to get back in shape?
The start of the season was difficult. It is not easy with the team and in my personal relationships. With these problems left in the head, it was quite difficult to concentrate on the goal. That’s why I wanted to do an internship at height. I was alone for two weeks in Font-Romeu [Pyrénées-Orientales]. It was the first time she had done that, going out alone and high up. I was able to recharge my batteries, I held on before my mechanic joined me. He did me a lot of good finding me, every morning he left at 6 alone and I escaped. I had to think of something else to prepare myself as well as possible for these two races. [Championnats européens et Mondiaux]. Mountain biking is a physical sport, but you also have to be strong mentally. I signed with a new team, soon it will be a new beginning [en 2023]and I’m happy about it.
It is not the first time that you have experienced doubts in your career, but you have always known how to recover…
It’s a bit like the story of my life, yeah (laughs). There are ups and downs, but such is life. Fortunately there are lows, so that the highs have more flavor. I believe that I am a fighter, and that character trait allows me to always exceed my limits.
This medal is a bit like revenge for the Tokyo Olympics race, where you finished 10th after a puncture?
I don’t like to talk about revenge, because I have nothing to prove to anyone. It is for me that I do it, I prove to myself that I can be there and that I am always there.
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