Following her victory in the women's road race in Ponferrada last year, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot didn't get to fully enjoy racing in the rainbow jersey during the 2015 season, saying that she wasn't quite prepared to handle the pressure of racing as the world champion. The French star told Cyclingnews on the eve of World Championships in Richmond, however, that she would relish in a second opportunity to wear the rainbow jersey.
"Yes, of course, yes," said Ferrand-Prevot when Cyclingnews asked if she felt confident she could win the women's road race again. "At the beginning of the year it was complicated for me because there was a lot of pressure with this jersey. During the races when attacking everyone wanted to be on my wheel. It was a little bit hard for me to understand.
"After the Giro Rosa stage that I won, for me, it was like I forgot about the pressure and I did what I wanted. Now I accept this rainbow jersey and I want to keep it for another year."
Ferrand-Prevot spent little time racing on the road this year but had strong performances at the World Cup in Italy where she placed second to Lizzie Armitstead. She also took four top-10 finishes in stages at the Elsy Jacobs and placed fifth overall. She went on to win the French road title and then competed in the Giro Rosa where she won stage 5 to Aprica and helped her Rabo-Liv teammate Anna Van der Breggen to win the overall title. Her last big race on the road was the GP de Plouay World Cup where she took third.
Ferrand-Prevot has typically mixed her season with various other cycling disciplines and this year was no different. She put some of her focus on mountain biking and captured another world title while racing in Vallnord, Andorra, at the beginning of September. It was her third world title after already winning the cyclo-cross title in Tabor at the end of January, and the road Worlds last fall.
"My first goal this year was to be the world champion in mountain biking and I did it," Ferrand-Prevot said. "I was also really motivated to train for the World Championships on the road and try to keep my world title.
"My training has gone very well and I'm very happy with my progression into Worlds."
The women's will race 129.9km held on a 16km circuit that includes a cobbled climb through Libby Hill Park, a 19 per cent climb up 23rd street and the final climb up Governor Street. She pre-rode the course on Thursday and said is suited her better than she originally thought.
"I just rode the course today. I didn't expect it to be like this, it's more difficult that I expected," Ferrand-Prevot said. "I had originally seen the video but you weren't able to see exactly how the course is. I'm really happy with the lap and I think it will be a really exciting race this year.
"The climb is quite steep so that's good for me and also the last one at the finish line is really hard, so I don't think it will be a massive bunch sprint but I think it's a good course for me."
Some are predicting that the race will come down to a small group at the finish, and if that's the case then Ferrand-Prevot believes that she has a shot at the victory.
"You never know but I think it will be a hard race and if it is a sprint with a few people I can win. I am not the only one who can win but I think it will be a nice race."
When asked to compare the race in Ponferrada, where Marianne Vos went in as the clear favourite, with predictions for the race that will play out on Saturday in Richmond, Ferrand-Prevot said, "I think that last year was a different kind of race.
"This year, everyone will come ready to attack because they are not scared of Marianne Vos, so the race might be much more open," she said referring to the fact that Vos will not be present in the women's road race due to injuries that have taken her out of the entire road season.
"Last year I was good at the beginning of the year but at the World Championships I was not as good. This year, I have trained specifically for the Worlds. I hope I can play for first place."
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