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Pauline Ferrand-Prévot thought she might not make it to the finish of the Koppenbergcross after she was plagued by mechanical issues during the race.
Ferrand-Prévot was making her Ineos Grenadiers debut at the race after signing a high-profile two-year deal with the squad to become its first female rider.
She ultimately finished in 12th at over six minutes behind the winner Fem van Empel after repeatedly being forced to chase following technical issues and a bike change. There were some positives to take from the race as she put in a strong ride, despite her technical issues.
“It was my first cyclocross race, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go,” Ferrand-Prévot told Sporza following the race. “I didn’t have much rest after the mountain bike season, but I felt good right away. Unfortunately, I had some mechanical problems.”
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Ferrand-Prévot started the Koppenbergcross several rows back due to a two-year break from the sport, but she made quick progress and was in a top 10 position by the end of the first lap. However, she slipped back down the standings after stopping to fix a mechanical issue midway around the second lap, but she was forced to run to the pits as she could not sort the problem.
After swapping bikes in the pits, she began to climb through the field once again and it looked as though she could still secure a top 10 finish, or even higher. However, she was scuppered again when her gears completely broke down just meters before the final ascent of the Koppenberg.
With nothing else she could do, Ferrand-Prévot began running to the line and took the whole Koppenberg on foot, no easy task on the cobbles. It was a disappointing end to the race, but it was a solid start for the Frenchwoman in terms of her own performance.
“I even thought for a moment that I wouldn’t make it, because my racing shoes slipped on the Koppenberg. My chain kept blocking. The last time the derailleur jammed, and my gears stopped working. So, I put my bike on the shoulder and walked,” she said.
“It was good to pick up the rhythm again and test the equipment. Today it didn’t work, so we still have some things to do. I also only had my cyclocross bike for four days, so it couldn’t be perfect yet.”