More than five months after her last competitive appearance, 2014 world road race champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot is set to return to action at the Strade Bianche having recovered from a double fracture of the tibial plateau. The 24-year-old Frenchwoman picked up the injury when she crashed while training in November. She had to write off the whole cyclo-cross campaign and with it her hopes of defending the world cyclo-cross title.
Laid up until the new year, Ferrand-Prevot has been steadily building up her fitness with a series of training camps, during which she has suffered no further issues with her knee. “I’m going to have an MRI soon to make sure that it’s all OK. But as things stand I’ve not felt any more pain there,” she says in an interview with L’Équipe.
Ferrand-Prevot reveals that she was concerned that she might not be able to stick with the pace of her Rabo-Liv teammates during a recent training camp in Spain, but was surprised by how well she coped with the increase in intensity. “I’ve never ridden as much at this time of the year before,” she says, adding that she’s also benefited from not having any short-term goals to chase. Her focus, she explains, has simply been on regaining her best condition and building towards the Rio Olympics, where she is targeting gold in the road race and mountain bike events.
Asked how she intends to combine the preparation for these two very different events, Ferrand-Prevot explains: “I’m going to do a mix of both in March. After the Strade Bianche, I’ll be doing a mountain bike race in Spain, then returning to the road for the Trofeo Binda, and continuing with French MTB Cup event in Marseille.
“In April I will be focusing entirely on the road. In May, I’ll do the same with mountain biking, then from June onwards I will really start into my preparation for the Olympics. I’m going to tackle the two disciplines head on. At the Games I’ll need to switch from one bike to the other very quickly.”
The Rabo-Liv leader says she’s not expecting much from herself at the Strade Bianche. “Above all I just want to see where I am at the moment. The other girls have two more months’ preparation behind them than me,” she says. “The first real test will be at Flèche Wallonne [on 20 April]. I’ll be at my peak there.”