Mountain Bike Worlds: in Les Gets, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot aims for the fourth rainbow cross-country jersey

From her first world champion title, on the road, in 2014, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot continues “Strange is the memory of an indifference”. “At the same time as if I didn’t really know what I had done and, at the same time, as if something could be done”development of the cyclist, now in his thirties.

Since then, the native of Reims has added five coronations in his individual record in two other disciplines, cyclo-cross and mountain biking, the last of which was obtained on Friday August 26 in the short track – short track – during the Worlds in Les Gets (Haute-Savoie). “Even its doping control [samedi] the morning can’t get the smile off my face”insisted the champion on his Instagram account the day after his victory… Before making an appointment for others.

Because his rainbow appetite – from the name given to the different jersey given to the winner of the Worlds – remains intact. Sunday August 28, the one nicknamed “PFP” will try to pick up a fourth iridescent tunic in the Olympic cross-country (XCO), the queen of mountain biking, a week after his 2e room for “Europe”in Munich (Germany).

“There is no monotony for an athletehe explained to world. To live it fully, each race is taken day by day. So, for even more reason, each title is also, and no one is 100% insured before leaving. It often involves an irreplaceable element of uncertainty that goes hand in hand with exhaustion. »

Especially since this 2022 edition, played at home, should have a special flavor. “We feel very strong motivation, so it’s a good meeting. As an athlete, there is also a kind of paradox in running the World in your country. Not necessarily because it will bring more pressure, but because you know you have to put yourself in your bubble if you want to give your best.he summarized.

A revised route

Since the official introduction of the competition in the calendar of the International Cycling Union (UCI) in 1990, France has hosted the Worlds twice: in 1993 in Métabief, in Doubs, then in 2004, already in Les Gets. “The world championships are the holy grailinsists David Moreau, XCO’s race director. Apart from the Olympic Games, this is the major event in the discipline. »

The cross-country event takes place on a circuit with the number of laps determined by the total time of the race – about an hour and a half for women, an hour and a half for men – depending on the conditions the day before the competition. . “We know that if it’s a little muddy, for example, it will take two more minutes per lap”illustrated by David Moreau. “The question always comes up: ‘But why didn’t you take the same route in 2004?’ », he laughed. In recent years, the length of the circuits has been shortened to facilitate the broadcast and make the event more telegenic – which in Les Gets is targeted at 3.39 kilometers, in the lower range, when the latter usually -oscillate between 3 and 5 kilometers. More importantly, the evolutions of equipment and piloting have made the course obsolete. To understand: “Too easy for a modern bike!” »

In 2019, the small resort of Haute-Savoie organized a round of the cross-country mountain biking World Cup and the feedback from the teams was clear: if the physical part – the sequences of ascent and descent – within the standards, the route is lacking. technical facilities. So the organizers are working to create areas of stones, trees, but also line changes suitable for duels.

“As there is a big difference in the course between 2019 and 2021 [date à laquelle une autre manche de Coupe du monde a été organisée aux Gets]like the evolution between last year and the world championships is littlelined up the race director. These are the only choices of the trajectory, picketing, which changes a little to have different angles of approach and sequence of modules. To add a little bit of difficulty as well, because we’re at Worlds. »

Loana Lecomte, big favorite

Freshly crowned with his European champion title in Munich, Loana Lecomte is the big favorite for the rainbow jersey. Especially since the 23-year-old prodigy has already won the Les Gets route in 2021. “Compared to other drivers, he benefits from the capital of confidence in a circuit that has already won”David Moreau believes.

“In fact, he is the strongest in both seasons. Through his number of victories, his status as the overall winner of the 2021 World Cup, he has established himself as the world number 1 in cross-country in France .Pauline Ferrand-Prévot abounds, who is full of admiration for her youngest. Plus, he’s from Haute-Savoie, so he’s right at home. » Even “PFP”, who was known by his own admission for a time “complicated” for personal reasons, it seems a bit over Bavaria, where he raced in the lead before experiencing a mechanical problem.

And if crowned on Sunday, she will match the record of Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle, who has four XCO world crowns. “I have this information in the back of my head, at least it’s a possibility, but it’s not a motivation in itself”, agreed to the interested party. Ten years after joining his first professional team, Champenoise is still going strong.

Searching for records, I see that it is a bit like a grumpy old thing, that needs it to tell their grandchildren “when I was young, I did that”, so as not to be forgotten in history . I have no such wish. What inspires me are the great races, the extraordinary moments of life to give everything to surpass yourself… It shakes me more than the data tables, the Guinness Books or career plans! » However, on Sunday, he could mark the history of his sport even further.

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