Mountain Bike Worlds: In Les Gets, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot aims for fourth rainbow jersey in cross race

In 2014, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot defends the title of the first world champion on the road. “a memory of a strangely certain imprudence”. “At the same time like I don’t understand what I’m doing and at the same time like anything is possible”developing cyclist, now in his thirties.

Since then, the resident of Reims has laid five crowns personal records in two other disciplines, cyclo-cross and mountain biking, the latter of which was collected on August 26 in short track at the Worlds in Les Gets (Haute-Savoie). “Even its doping control [samedi] it won’t take the smile off my face in the morning”the day after his victory, the champion insisted on his Instagram account … Before making an appointment for the rest.

Because his appetite for rainbows – named after the distinctive jersey given to the World Cup winner – remains intact. On Sunday, August 28, the nicknamed “PFP” will try to collect a fourth shiny tunic at the Olympic cross (XCO), the queen event of mountain biking, a week after 2.e room for “Europe”In Munich (Germany).

“There is no monotony for an athleteexplains to The world. Each race is taken day by day to fully experience it. So all the more reason that every title is also and none of them are 100% insured before departure. It always contains an irreducible portion of uncertainty, which combines very badly with fatigue. »

Especially played at home, this 2022 edition definitely has a bit of a special flavor. “We feel very strong enthusiasm, so it will be a great meeting. As an athlete, there’s something of a paradox about running Worlds in your country. Not necessarily because it will bring extra pressure, but because you know that if you want to do your best, you have to put yourself in a bubble.he summarizes.

Updated route

Since the official introduction of the race on the International Cycling Union (UCI) calendar in 1990, France has already hosted the World Championships twice: in 1993 in Metabief, Doubs, and again in 2004 in Les Gets. “World championships are sacredXCO race director David Moreau insists. Aside from the Olympics, it’s really the premier event of the discipline. »

The cross-country race is held on a circuit where the number of laps is determined by the total race time, depending on the conditions the day before the race – about an hour and a half for women and an hour and a half for men. . “We know that if it’s a bit muddy, for example, it will take two more minutes per lap.”David Moreau describes. “Often such a question arises: “Why didn’t you follow the route of 2004?”. », laughs. In recent years, the length of circuits has been shortened to facilitate broadcasting and make the event more telegenic – Les Gets is shown at 3.39 kilometres, in the lower range, the latter generally varying between 3 and 5 kilometres. Above all, the equipment evolutions and the piloting course were outdated. Understand : “Too easy for a modern bike!” »

In 2019, the small resort of Haute-Savoie organized a round of the mountain bike World Cup, and the feedback from the teams was clear: if the physical part – the sequence of ascents and descents – was up to standard, the route was lacking. technical capabilities. Therefore, the organizers worked to create favorable line changes for rocks, trunks, as well as duels.

“What a big difference in course between 2019 and 2021 [date à laquelle une autre manche de Coupe du monde a été organisée aux Gets]as much as the evolution between last year and the world championships was minimalemphasizes the race director. It’s just a slightly changing trajectory, picket options to have different approach angles and sequence of modules. Since we’re at worlds, let’s add a little difficulty. »

Loana Lecomte, the big favorite

Freshly crowned European champion in Munich, Loana Lecomte is a big favorite in the rainbow jersey. Especially since the 23-year-old prodigy has already won the Les Gets route in 2021. “Compared to other drivers, he benefits from already-earned on-track confidence capital.”David Moreau reckons.

“Objectively, he has been the strongest for two seasons. Due to the number of victories, the status of the overall winner of the 2021 World Cup, he established himself as the world number 1 in cross-country in France.full of praise for her youngest, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. Besides, he’s from Haute-Savoie, so he’ll be really at home. » “AKCP”, which knows one more season by its own admission “ink” for personal reasons, he looked a bit up in Bavaria, where he was leading before suffering a mechanical problem.

If crowned on Sunday, she would equal Norway’s Gunn-Rita Dahle’s record of four XCO world crowns. “I have this information in my head, it’s a possibility at best, but it’s not a motivation in itself”, admits to the person concerned. Ten years after joining his first professional team, Champenos is still running at will.

Hunting for records, I liken it to a bit of a grumpy old man who needs to tell his grandkids “I did it when I was young” so that history wouldn’t be forgotten. I have no such desire. The big races that motivate me, the unique moments in life to give it your all to outdo yourself… It makes me shiver more than data sheets. Guinness Books or career plans! » Still, on Sunday, he could make a little more history in the sport.

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