While Jeannie Longo was surprisingly a non-starter at the age of 55, French female cycling has found a new icon with Flèche wallonne winner Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, who claimed four national titles in three days as she won the U23 and elite time trial and road race. Her solo attack of 14 kilometers in today's road race was an impressive one.
The race was broadcasted live on French television for the first time in the wake of a new promotional campaign for women cycling leading up to La Course by Le Tour de France to be contested on the Champs-Elysées in Paris prior to the last stage of the Tour de France on July 27.
"This is just wonderful," said Ferrand-Prévot. "It's one of the nicest titles. It makes me tremendously proud, especially because I'll wear the French national jersey abroad, racing for a foreign team [Rabo women]. We've offered to the spectators and TV viewers a superb race. That was very important for women's cycling. We have shown that it wasn't a bike race contested at 10km/h. But it was a short event - only 90km - and the beginning was a bit complicated for me."
Ferrand-Prévot talked like a true professional as she described her tactics. "I had to find allies as I was racing alone", she said. "I warned Audrey Cordon [of Hitec Products] when I would attack. I knew she was my main competitor, but she was also likely to be helpful. But when a break of eight riders was formed, I thought for a little while that it was game over."
With 50km to go, Mélanie Bravard, Fanny Riberot and Mélodie Lesueur (Lointek), Oriane Chaumet and Sandrine Bideau (Poitou-Charentes-Futuroscope 86), Ludivine Loze (Midi-Pyrénées), Coralie Demay (Bretagne) and Marine Strappazzon (Franche-Comté) rode away.
Ferrand-Prévot eventually launched a counter-attack with Cordon and Aude Biannic (Lointek), but she made it across by herself and dropped everyone in the hill with 14km to go.
"I didn't think too much of how many kilometers were left," she said. "I went for a short time trial to see it would go. I didn't care much about winning or not. I wanted to give everything and put on a good show. I wouldn't even have been disappointed, had I not won. Only in the last 500 metres, I had the win in mind. Until I saw mum and dad almost crying on the road side, I was very focused. I don't know if I was the strongest, but I was hyper motivated."
Having already been crowned elite French champion for cyclo-cross, she added the time trial and road titles to her credit but she also has one more race for blue-white-red jersey in sight as she'll contest the championship for mountain bike racing in mid-July - between the Giro d'Italia and La Course by Le Tour de France.
"I want to test myself in the climbs in Italy and figure out where my limits are in such a big stage race, but we will have a very good [Rabo women's] team there, and I hope that one of us will be on the final podium," said the ambitious Ferrand-Prévot.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Rabobank-Liv Woman Cycling Team)||2:23:30|
|2||Mélodie Lesueur (Lointek)||0:01:23|
|3||Fanny Riberot (Lointek)||0:02:48|
|5||Sandrine Bideau (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86)|
|6||Mélanie Bravard (Lointek)|
|9||Audrey Cordon (Hitec Products)||0:04:42|
|10||Elise Delzenne (Specialized-lululemon)|
|11||Roxane Fournier (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86)|
|12||Pascale Jeuland (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86)|
|16||Amelie Rivat (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86)|
|22||Marion Rousse (Lotto Belisol Ladies)|
|23||Jean De Saint (Magdaléna)|
|28||Oriane Chaumet (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86)|
|31||Aude Biannic (Lointek)|
|33||Lucie Pader (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86)|
|34||Charlotte Bravard (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86)|
|35||Edwige Pitel (S.C. Michela Fanini Rox)|
|36||Aodez Le Fourn|
|42||Manon Souyris (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86)|
|DNF||Aurore Verhoeven (Lointek)|
|DNF||Fiona Dutriaux (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86)|