One of our Euro corespondents, Bart Hazen, caught up with Pauline Ferrand-Prevot between snapping photos. Because some of our Euro racers, with the exceptions of Niels, Sven, Lars or (this season) Kevin, tend to go somewhat unnoticed in the states (unless, like Helen Wyman or Bart Wellens, they come over to race), we thought this was a great chance for US cyclocross devotees to get to know one of the women who’s racing in Europe this season.
Pauline has had an amazing 2011 season, most recently taking second place at Hamme-Zogge. (Note: Pauline will ride next year for the Rabobank Women’s UCI team. This interview was done a few days before she signed with the team of captain Marianne Vos. In 2015, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot made history, holding three UCI World Championships at once, winning the 2015 Cyclocross World Championships in Tabor, the 2015 Mountain Bike Cross Country (XCO) World Championships in Andorra, and the 2014 Road World Championships).
by Bart Hazen
Cyclocross Magazine: Most of the people will know you from cyclocross or mountain bike. For the people who don’t, can you introduce yourself?
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot: My name is Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, 19 years old of age, and I live in Reims (France), the Champagne region. I hold a scientific bachelor’s degree and I am following a study in physical therapy.
CXM: How did you get involved with cycling?
PFP: Very naturally. I started with riding on a road bike at the age of five. My parents took care of a cycling school, so I must say that I am from a real cycling family. In my family, everyone rides a bike. My parents are recreational cyclists and my sister (15 years old), my brother (21 years old) and I are all competitive cyclists.
Three years ago, I started with mountain biking and cyclocross. My first big win was French Champion with the cadettes in my first year. I have always been precocious.
CXM: I read somewhere that your mother didn’t want you to start with cycling because it was not female enough. Now you are so successful, how does she see that?
PFP: In fact, my mother is a former cyclist, but she would have preferred me to do an other sport than cycling. For example, figure skating. My mother thought it was wrong that her daughter was going to do the same sport as the parents and my brother. She didn’t want to impose.
But ultimately it was my mother who introduced me to cycling. She really believed in me. It was my mum who trained me before I got trained by Gerard Brooks. I inherited her will, she is always there for me, and she likes women’s cycling.
CXM: How do you look back at your road and mountain bike season? You had some good results in UCI road races in Belgium and Luxembourg early in the season.
PFP: I am very happy with my first season in the Elite Women’s category. I left the Juniors category, and to finish in the top 10 of a World Cup, the Fleche Wallonne, is superb!
In mountain biking, I won the U23 World Cup and was third at the World Championships. These are great results, but it was a very challenging season also due to the traveling.
After a rest period, I started with cyclocross. I see I am making progress, which gives me a lot of satisfaction.
CXM: You finished in third place at the European Cyclocross Championships behind Daphny van den Brand and Lucie Chainel. It was your first big international race of the new season. Did you expect that?
PFP: No, I didn’t expect it because the European Championships was my return to cyclocross. I was not prepared for such a result. But from that race on I am making lots of progress, and I feel more and more comfortable.
CXM: Which races will you do in the current cyclocross season?
PFP: It’s a bit frustrating, but my winter program will be shortened. In fact, I decided with my coach to stop my cyclocross season immediately after the National Championships in the beginning of January. The reason is simple: I have to be ready early in the year to collect points in both mountain bike and road races. My goal is to get selected for two Olympic disciplines, but there are only two spots for the French team. So it will be very tough.
CXM: What will be your goals for this cyclocross season?
PFP: To have pleasure, and why not, to win a first national title with the Elites.
CXM: After the cyclocross season, the focus will be on the Olympic Games in London. On which disciplines you will focus? And what you are aiming for?
PFP: Participating in two disciplines (MTB/Road) is a great challenge. But it’s achievable if you look at the dates of the races. I hope to do good races, in the top 10, and gain valuable experience for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (2016).
CXM: You are active on the road, in cyclocross and in MTB. How do you manage all this?
PFP: It isn’t difficult for me to switch from one bike to the other. To me, this is useful.
I don’t like monotony and I am never tired.
The most difficult part of being a cyclist is traveling. I also have to make choices on the calendar. The disciplines are complementary.
CXM: In a later phase in your career, do you want to become a full-time off-road rider or road rider?
PFP: I didn’t make a choice yet. But I see myself on a top women’s team. (Note: Pauline will ride next year for the Rabobank Women’s UCI team. This interview was done a few days before she signed with the team of captain Marianne Vos)
CXM: What will be your goals be in the long term as a person and as a cyclist?
PFP: There are still lots of things to learn, lots of good races to win, and the Olympic Games are always a great moment in the career of an athlete.
CXM: You are world class in different disciplines. Some may see you as the French Marianne Vos. How do you handle the pressure?
PFP: It’s an honor if people compare me with Marianne Vos. I am a fan. I don’t know about the pressure, I am cool.
CXM: Do you have role models?
PFP: There are many girls whom I admire in all disciplines of cycling. I admire them for their performances, behavior and femininity, and I have good relations with other athletes.
CXM: Final question. What is your motto?
PFP: To those who believe they have won, take nothing for granted.
(Pour ceux qui croient en remportant, Il n’ya rien pour acquis.)