Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, the only person in history to simultaneously hold UCI World Championship titles in cyclocross, road and mountain biking, has abruptly ended her season after competing in the Rio Olympics in both the road race and mountain bike race.
After winning her cyclocross world championship in 2015 in Tabor, cyclocross fans didn’t have the privilege of seeing the rainbow-clad French racer compete in the mud last season after a knee injury, and it looks like it will be at least another year, if ever, before we see the dynamic racer toe the line at a cyclocross race.
Ferrand-Prévot, after suffering from a knee stress fracture, sciatica and bad allergies, posted on Facebook that she’s ending her season, and possibly her career.
“I end my season on abandonment. I do not know when I will go back on a bike.
The bike was what I loved to do the most, but it became my biggest nightmare.”
Earlier this year, Ferrand-Prévot had already stated she has no plans to race past 30 years old, envisioning a post-racing career she describes as:
“a life like everyone else, a woman’s life, with children, a real job.”
It appears as though there’s a risk that the young 24-year-old phenom might end her career well before 30, lamenting her current mental and physical state (translated from French).
“Being World Champion in three disciplines in one year may have been the worst thing that ever happened to me. Even injured, I was working harder every day without giving up. I abandoned race after race, thinking my [bad luck] would eventually stop.”
Injuries, allergies, ineffective medications and crashes all proved to be difficult barriers on her course to regaining the dominance she displayed in her world-title-hoarding season.
— Dans la musette (@DansLaMusette) July 6, 2016
Despite the rocky road to Rio, the Olympic Games, with road racing and mountain bike gold medals within reach, were a major priority for Ferrand-Prévot. Earlier this year, she old the Olympics.org website:
“The Games is something I’ve dreamed about all my life, even more so after London 2012. It’s the most amazing competition in the world, and it’s an opportunity to get into the spotlight for 15 days, because our sport doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the media. And it’s a chance to represent your country on the biggest sporting stage on the planet.”
However, after finishing a disappointing 26th in the road race in Rio, and dropping out of the cross country mountain bike race, Ferrand-Prévot said she could do no more:
“I wanted to finish this race which I dreamed [about], but my body could not. It was really impossible for me. I am extremely disappointed, there are no words to express it. I left the race crying… I did not think to go in the media zone to explain my abandonment reporters, this is really the last thing you think about in those moments.”
Let’s hope that the young star can heal her body and rediscover the joy she once had for cycling. Fans certainly were treated to an impressive display of bunnyhopping barriers, technical skills and speed, in all three disciplines:
Way back in 2011, we caught up with Ferrand-Prevot, and she told Cyclocross Magazine at the time that she believes “to those who believe they have won, take nothing for granted.”
Being able to witness her impressive, aggressive racing over her short but championship-filled career, we’ve already won as fans. If she makes a return to cycling, we promise not to take it for granted.