At the age of 23, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabo-Liv) claimed her 23rd French title (15 for road racing, 6 for mountain-biking and two for cyclo-cross) as she won solo in the Elite category in Chantonnay, Vendée on Saturday. She’s also a six-time world champion and currently holds the titles for road racing, cyclo-cross and mixed relay in mountain-biking. But for the first time, she has heard the signal that she has to target less goals to remain consistent and competitive.
“I got too much used to winning," she acknowledged after collecting her gold medal. “A few times this year, I cried, I got cranky, at the Flèche wallonne (8th), I fell into tears because I didn’t win like last year. I forgot that two years ago I would have been full of joy to make the top 10 of this race. Today I realize that I’ve learned how to appreciate the good time as an athlete and I also know that a career is also made of hard times.”
The French championships where she also took the bronze medal in time trial – and was happy with it – have marked a new start in her career after she was sidelined for more than a month because of sciatica. “This injury meant my body was saying stop," she analyzed. “I’ll be wiser in the future. I’ll respect the indispensable periods of rest.”
In the past, she’d never listen to advice when coaches recommended choosing between road and mountain-biking. She’d change coach instead. With regards to setting goals for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she’ll have an appointment with the technical director of the French cycling federation, Vincent Jaquet, next month.
“I’ve already done London so I know the atmosphere of the Games and I look forward to the next ones," Ferrand-Prévot said. “It’ll be my biggest goal for next year so I might change my schedule compared to the previous seasons. Nothing is decided yet but I might skip the cyclo-cross season or start my road season later. I won’t be doing nothing during the winter but I’ll definitely plan some breaks to rest.”