Pauline Ferrand-Prévot has adjusted her training program to reach peak form in September and October, when the mountain bike season is expected to resume after the global sports shutdown due to the covid-19 pandemic. In an interview with Eurosport, the mountain bike world champion said she remains firmly fixed on participating in the delayed Olympic Games that have been rescheduled for July 2021.
"Clearly, the Olympic Games," Ferrand-Prévot, who is a multi-discipline world champion in road, cyclo-cross and mountain bike, named as her biggest aspiration at this point in her career.
"This is the title that is missing from my record. And it is also the supreme title, every four, or five years. It has a special flavor and it is the title I miss, so this is the one I want. After that, [cycling] must remain fun. This is how it works in the best way for me: pleasure, training, competition ... pleasure , it is the base of everything."
Ferrand-Prévot had the Tokyo Olympic Games as part of her main targets for this season before the covid-19 virus spread rapidly around the world. Since March, many nations have undergone some form of lockdown and have taken public health precautions, while in the sport of cycling, events have been either cancelled or postponed. The IOC announced last week that it postponed the Tokyo Games and they have since been rescheduled for July 23 to August 8 next summer.
The UCI is providing on its website continuous updates of event cancellations and postponements due to the novel coronavirus. At the same time the sport governing body is working with race organisers to determine event date changes for those events that are postponed. For mountain biking, races have been put on hold until end of June including all World Cups and the World Championships.
"[Olympic Games] was really my main objective," Ferrand-Prévot told Eurosport. "We also learned of the cancellation of the World Cup MTB this morning [Friday]. No [World Championships] at the end of June, no Games this summer ... It's been a bit weird season. But we are in a very delicate situation, really alarming. There are other things than sport in life, more important things, notably health. We have to wait until everything is back in order to develop other objectives."
Ferrand-Prévot said she has recovered from double iliac artery endofibrosis. She revealed in November 2018 that she was diagnosed with iliac artery endofibrosis, in one spot in each leg. She had been experiencing pain and circulation problems in her legs since 2015, when she was a triple world champion – road (2014), cyclo-cross (2015) and mountain bike (2015).
She underwent surgery in both legs in February of 2019 and took four months off to recover and then made a winning comeback at the MTB World Cup in Val di Sole and went on to win the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont-Saint-Anne, Canada at the end of August. She then announced that she was experiencing a recurrence of symptoms in one leg and underwent a second surgery in January.
"It was a special year," she said. "There was the operation. There was a big moment of doubt, it was hard and long to come back. There were two or three rather complicated months. I didn't know if I was going to come back for a year. I had no feelings in training. It was hard to stay positive. And then it was a trigger from July. were not the same at all. Going for this title of world champion in Canada is a great memory. I struggled a lot with this leg injury, with the operation… It was good that everything the work finally pays off. The title at the world marathon championships was the icing on the cake after an incredible season."
Due to the coronavirus health precautions and the cancellation of events, her coach suggested to stop training and take a break but she has continued training on the trainer and has kept a set routine. She is also aiming to be ready for a late-season of mountain biking should events reschedule into September and October.
"I set my alarm clock at a fixed time, I I take care of my emails. I go to training, even if it's just going to the garden on the home trainer. But I have a ritual to rhythm my days. It's less difficult to live than if I don't do nothing at all. So I preferred to continue training to have a rhythm of life and that it would not be a big deal during the confinement of eating all day in front of the TV.
"It’s true that it’s pretty hard at the moment. It’s a season that will start late, so you will have to be in shape late, in September and October. In general, these are the months that are a little hard to manage. It's the end of the season, we're a bit fed up and we are tired. There, we will have to plan a peak of fitness at the end of the year. completely different from the season ... But it keeps me motivated.
Despite her late-season ambitions and goals for the 2021 Olympic Games, Ferrand-Prévot is clear that the current coronavirus crisis is the highest priority right now and that global health is her biggest concern.
"I tell myself that this confinement will come to an end," she told Eurosport. "Everything will return to normal and we will start again on our former lives and on simple pleasures: seeing friends, family, don't just stay at home ... I really want the situation to improve as soon as possible, especially for people who are sick and those who are affected."
Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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