Pauline Ferrand-Prévot wept on the top step of podium for the Elite women at the Mountain Bike World Championships, on Saturday in Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec. The French rider has struggling for two years with leg problems, and underwent iliac artery surgery at the beginning of the year.
By mid-summer she was beginning to show signs of the talent that led to concurrent world titles in Mountain Bike, Road and Cyclo-cross, with a World Cup win, and in Mont-Ste-Anne she won the rainbow jersey for the first time since 2015.
The women's field had tremendous depth, with other contenders including Jolanda Neff (Switzerland), defending champion Kate Courtney (USA), Dutch riders Anne Tauber and Anne Terpstra, plus Olympic champion Jenny Rissveds (Sweden), another rider in the midst of a comeback.
By the end of the first lap, Neff, Australian champion Rebecca McConnell and Courtney had 15 seconds on the two Dutch riders, with Ferrand-Prévot seemingly out of contention at 49 seconds. However, Courtney was dropped by the other two and Ferrand-Prévot was slowing reeling in the chasers - 35 seconds back at the end of Lap 2, and up to third at 22 seconds by Lap 4.
Neff started to fade in the fourth lap, leaving McConnell at the front on her own, and then Ferrand-Prévot caught and dropped Neff to move into second, 30 seconds down on the Australian.
By the penultimate fifth lap, Ferrand-Prévot had caught and dropped McConnell to move into the lead, 41 seconds ahead at the start of the last lap, with Neff at 1:03. While Ferrand-Prévot was racing to victory, Neff gained her second wind, passing McConnell to claim second, with the Australian taking third.
"It was a difficult journey back," said Ferrand-Prévot. "Before my operation, it was almost like getting stabbed in the legs if I made an intense effort over two and a half minutes. So, I had to get the operation, even though they told me it could be risky."
"I didn't want to miss this opportunity. I gave everything I had from the start to finish. I really wanted to win today and I'm so happy to do it.
"The race overall was so crazy; to come from 15th to win! It's been a hard journey to get back to here. But this makes all of the hard decisions, all of the efforts and sacrifices worth it."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) France||1:28:51|
|2||Jolanda Neff (Swi) Switzerland||0:00:43|
|3||Rebecca Mcconnell (Aus) Australia||0:01:17|
|4||Anne Terpstra (Ned) Netherlands||0:02:26|
|5||Kate Courtney (USA) United States of America||0:02:42|
|6||Annie Last (GBr) Great Britain||0:02:54|
|7||Anne Tauber (Ned) Netherlands||0:03:12|
|8||Tanja Žakelj (Slo) Slovenia||0:03:40|
|9||Emily Batty (Can) Canada||0:03:59|
|10||Linda Indergand (Swi) Switzerland||0:04:46|
|11||Lea Davison (USA) United States of America||0:04:52|
|12||Haley Smith (Can) Canada|
|13||Daniela Campuzano Chavez Peon (Mex) Mexico||0:04:54|
|14||Catharine Pendrel (Can) Canada||0:05:31|
|15||Chloe Woodruff (USA) United States of America||0:05:41|
|16||Jenny Rissveds (Swe) Sweden||0:05:51|
|17||Maja Wloszczowska (Pol) Poland||0:06:08|
|18||Sandra Walter (Can) Canada||0:06:22|
|19||Githa Michiels (Bel) Belgium||0:06:31|
|20||Jitka Čábelická (Cze) Czech Republic||0:08:52|
|21||Eva Lechner (Ita) Italy||0:09:09|
|22||Chiara Teocchi (Ita) Italy||0:09:39|
|23||Janika Lõiv (Est) Estonia||0:09:40|
|24||Julie Bresset (Fra) France||0:09:42|
|25||Barbara Benkó (Hun) Hungary||0:10:04|
|26||Hannah Finchamp (USA) United States of America||0:10:25|
|27||Elisabeth Osl (Aut) Austria||0:10:32|
|28||Paula Quiros (Arg) Argentina||0:10:36|
|29||Malene Degn (Den) Denmark||0:10:45|
|30||Alessandra Keller (Swi) Switzerland||0:11:29|
|31||Sofia Gomez Villafane (Arg) Argentina||0:11:46|
|32||Jennifer Jackson (Can) Canada||0:11:59|
|33||Irina Kalentyeva (Rus) Russian Federation||0:12:14|
|34||Ramona Forchini (Swi) Switzerland||0:12:34|
|35||Erin Huck (USA) United States of America||0:13:06|
|36||Cherie Redecker (RSA) South Africa||LAP|
|37||Candice Lill (RSA) South Africa||LAP|
|38||Lucie Urruty (Fra) France||LAP|
|39||Karla Štěpánová (Cze) Czech Republic||LAP|
|40||Elisabeth Brandau (Ger) Germany||LAP|
|41||Janka Keseg Stevkova (Svk) Slovakia||LAP|
|42||Adelheid Morath (Ger) Germany||LAP|
|43||Cindy Montambault (Can) Canada||LAP|
|44||Sophie Von Berswordt (Ned) Netherlands||LAP|
|45||Laura Valentina Abril Restrepo (Col) Colombia||LAP|
|46||Isla Short (GBr) Great Britain||LAP|
|47||Jaqueline Mourao (Bra) Brazil||LAP|
|48||Annika Langvad (Den) Denmark||LAP|
|49||Elyse Nieuwold (Can) Canada||LAP|
|50||Jovana Crnogorac (Srb) Serbia||LAP|
|51||Agustina Maria Apaza (Arg) Argentina||LAP|
|52||Aleksandra Podgorska (Pol) Poland||LAP|
|53||Fabienne Schaus (Lux) Luxembourg||LAP|
|54||Holly Harris (Aus) Australia||LAP|
|55||Meritxell Figueras Garangou (Spa) Spain||LAP|
|56||Leidy Johana Mera Cadena (Col) Colombia||LAP|
|57||Yosiana Fareidy Quintero Pineda (Col) Colombia||LAP|
|58||Milagro Mena Solano (CRc) Costa Rica||LAP|
|59||Teodora Savić-popović (Srb) Serbia||LAP|
|60||Alexis Skarda (USA) United States of America||LAP|
|61||Viviane Favery Costa (Bra) Brazil||LAP|
|DNS||Yana Belomoina (Ukr) Ukraine|
|DNS||Rose Grant (USA) United States of America|