'Pauline Ferrand-Prévot has been named France’s champion of champions for 2014 by L'Équipe at the end of an incredible season in which she won the world road title and the French road, time trial, cyclo-cross and MTB cross-country titles.
Speaking to the sports daily, the 22-year-old Frenchwoman, who shares the cover of L'Équipe’s final edition of the year with world champion of champions, American swimmer Katie Ledecky, reflects on her career and hints at an intriguing rivalry with team-mate and former world champion Marianne Vos, who lost her crown to Ferrand-Prévot in Ponferrada last September.
Recalling the moment when the two Rabo-Liv riders met up for a recent pre-season photo shoot, Ferrand-Prévot says: "I had the rainbow jersey on and didn't feel very comfortable in it. She was in the 'normal’ team jersey, and I found her a bit distant. She took her defeat very badly. But if she wasn't happy with me she would have said, 'Ciao Pauline.' Instead, I've extended my contract until 2016."
The two women are due to go head to head in the quest for another rainbow jersey at the World Cyclo-Cross Championships in the Czech Republic on 31 January. Vos is targeting a seventh cyclo-cross world title, Ferrand-Prévot her first.
Ferrand-Prévot has ridden alongside Vos on the Dutch-backed team since 2012 and describes her as "an example, but not an idol". The Frenchwoman says she's learned a huge amount from Vos and the team over the past three years and that she's "super happy" to be there, which has been confirmed by her decision to extend her deal to the end of 2016.
Looking ahead to future goals, "PFP" picks out the 2016 Olympics as her primary target. She says she intends to be much better prepared than she was going into the 2012 London Games, when she only got a month's notice of her selection for the road and mountain bike races. She finished eighth on the road and a disappointing 26th in the off-road event.
"I did a lot to gain selection. When you're only 20, you say to yourself: these are the Games, this is too much. Afterwards, you realise that you can't leave anything to chance, such as not sleeping in the Olympic village, because there's always a party going on. In Rio, I will have to find some little place a bit away from all that," she says.
Ferrand-Prévot reveals that her other big dream is to have children and says she doesn't expect to be racing in 10 years' time. "If possible I don't want to have just one, and I don't want to wait until I'm old before having them," she explains. "In 10 years' time I won't be racing any longer because I want to devote myself to them 100%."
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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