Ferrand-Prevot: Cycling has become my biggest nightmare

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot has put an end to her 2016 season after a disappointing Olympic Games that saw her place 26th in the women's road race and then abandon the mountain bike event on Saturday.

In a lengthy post about her troubled season on her social media accounts, Ferrand-Prevot wrote that cycling had "become a nightmare" and questioned whether winning world titles in three disciplines – road, mountain bike and cyclo-cross – in the space of a year had been "the worst thing" that could have happened to her.

Ferrand-Prevot's 2016 campaign was hampered by a tibial plateau stress fracture sustained in the winter, and she felt that she made a mistake in returning to training too hastily. "I came back too fast and too strongly, without listening to the advice of my coach, who told me to build back up slowly," Ferrand-Prevot wrote.

11th in Strade Bianche and 8th at the Tour of Flanders were the stand-out showings for Ferrand-Prevot early in the season, but she was beset by problems with allergies after relocating to the south of France in the spring. Ferrand-Prevot said that she treated the allergies with corticoids after a three-week course of anti-biotics had failed to remedy the issue.

"As the anti-doping rules stipulate, you're not allowed to take part in competition for ten days [after using corticoids – ed.] Those were ten days in which I trained even harder again to try to lose the least amount of time possible," Ferrand-Prevot wrote.

Ferrand-Prevot was forced to take a further break from competition in May and June, when she was troubled by sciatica, a lingering effect from her knee problem of the winter. Two lumbar epidurals did little to improve the situation. "Every training ride was an ordeal," she wrote. "I was riding, but at the pace of a cyclo-tourist.

"Every day I woke up telling myself that it was one day less to the biggest appointment of my career. Being world champion in three disciplines in one year was maybe the worst thing that happened to me. Even though injured, I trained harder every day without laying down arms."

After receiving treatment for his sciatica in Besancon, Ferrand-Prevot opted to continue with the ambitious plan to ride both the road and mountain bike events in Rio, and she won the French mountain bike title ahead of the Games.

"In the end, I didn't really make up for the lost time, even if I was very serious," she wrote. "These Olympics were the result of a year of hell."

After placing a distant 26th in the road race on the opening weekend of the Games, Ferrand-Prevot struggled again in the mountain bike event two weeks later, and opted to abandon. "I didn’t think of going to the mixed zone to explain my abandon to the journalists. It's really the last thing you're thinking of at moments like that," she wrote.

"I'm finishing my season on an abandon. I don't know when I'll get back on a bike. Cycling was what I loved to do the most, but it’s become my biggest nightmare."

Currently with the Rabo-Liv team, Ferrand-Prevot has been linked with a move to Canyon-SRAM for the 2017 season.

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