Pauline Ferrand-Prevot can’t stop winning. The iconic French racer earned her second world championship title this week at UCI “super worlds,” dominating the women’s XCO mountain bike race on Saturday.
Ferrand-Prevot’s win is her 12th elite world championship title across disciplines and fifth elite women’s XCO title. With mountain bike worlds happening slightly earlier than last year, it is also her sixth world championship title in under 12 months.
Elite women’s XCO: How the race unfolded
Off the line, it was Dutch phenom Puck Pieterse taking the early lead. The young racer quickly earned an advantage over the field with only Loana Lecomte able to follow her wheel. After a fast start loop, Lecomte took over the lead as the duo headed out onto the first full lap, and then took off on her own.
After a slower start, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot spent the first lap chasing. Going out onto the second of seven full laps, she was five seconds behind a chase group of Alessandra Keller, Pieterse, Martina Berta and Evie Richards. Ferrand-Prevot quickly caught, then moved through the chase group to go off in pursuit of Lecomte.
It took little time for the senior French racer to make contact with her younger French counterpart. But, what looked like a strong French 1-2 leading duo didn’t last long. Ferrand-Prevot moved right past, opening up a 15 second lead by the end of the lap. Pieterse and Keller were already 34 seconds off the lead, with Richards another handful of seconds behind.
Ferrand-Prevot’s lead continued to grow, eventually passing the one-minute mark. Behind, Keller put pressure on Richards and Pieterse, only to be joined by Austrian XC Marathon world champion Mona Mitterwallner.
As rain started to fall on Glentress Forest trails, Ferrand-Prevot continued her solo quest. Mitterwallner and Pieterse separated from the bronze-medal group and, on the final lap, started to put pressure on Lecomte in second.
On the front, though, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot capped off a perfect race, looking calm the entire 90 minutes until a smile broke across her face as she turned onto the final start straight and started to celebrate.
“I didn’t have a good start, but I wanted to keep my own pace the whole race. I’m really proud that I kept my plan,” Ferrand-Prevot said of not getting thrown off by the slow start. “I was on a mission, I just wanted to go full gas.”
It’s the French women’s fifth elite XCO world championship title. It arrives just one year before the Paris Olympic games land in Ferrand-Prevot’s home country, too.
Lecomte managed to hold off the chasing duo, earning the silver medal in a France 1-2 finish. Pieterse made a late attack to pass Mitterwallner, escaping the Austrian to cross the line for third.
Canada and North America
Two North Americans finished in the top 10. Gwen Gibson crossed the line in 8th and Savilia Blunk in 10th, both of the U.S.A.
Jenn Jackson finished as the top Canadian in 24th. She was the only Canadian on the lead lap. Sandra Walter placed 50th while Laurie Arseneault crashed in traffic did not finish the race.