“I have good news and less good news” was how Pauline Ferrand-Prevot started a Facebook message to her fans.
The multi-discipline French rider continued to tell how, while on a training camp in South Africa, the pain Ferrand-Prevot has dealt with for four years grew worse and started to affect her during the night.
After seeing doctors, Ferrand-Prevot published a second statement, including a communiqué from her physician Dr. Jacky Jersey identifying the problem as iliac endofibrosis in her left leg and, to a lesser extent, in the right. The French rider, who is the only rider to ever hold four world champion titles in the same year, will undergo surgery at the University Hospital in Lyon, France.
Recovery from the surgery is expected to be approximately four months, meaning Ferrand-Prevot will miss the entire 2018-2019 cyclocross season.
In a third post, the French rider said she is “relieved and happy” to finally have an answer to the problems with her left leg had caused her for four years now. She was less excited to be told the condition was also affecting her right leg.
Ferrand-Prevot has publicly struggled with a problem in her leg since her incredible 4xworld champion year in 2015. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, she finished a disappointing 24th in the road race before dropping out of the cross country mountain bike event. The French rider ended her season after the games, opting to focus on recovering from a tibial fracture sustained during the previous winters training in the the hopes that she could return at full strength.
The following two seasons produced a mix of excellent results and disappointments. Ferrand-Prevot described that “When I have to make an effort of more than 70% of my max, I have a feel of ‘dead leg’ (as if being compressed at the thigh and foot).”
The condition would improve with rest, allowing her to race well when not fatigued. At Nove Mesto XCO World Cup this year, Ferrand-Prevot finished third behind Annika Langvad and Jolanda Neff, and fourth shortly after in the Val di Sole XCO World Cup.
On the other hand, if Ferrand-Prevot arrived at a race fatigued, or raced multiple days in a row, she says she would be unable to produce power. At La Course by Le Tour, she recalled she could barely even produce 200 watts.
While iliac endofibrosis is a rare condition, it is more common among young athletes, particularly high performance cyclists. Several professional riders have suffered from the condition, including American pro road racer Joe Dombrowski.