Pauline Ferrand-Prévot takes third elite MTB world title in Austria

Frenchwoman defends title in Leogang having also taken rainbow jersey in 2015.

Pauline Ferrand-Prévot retained her title as cross-country mountain bike world champion Saturday. The Frenchwoman took her third rainbow jersey in the discipline on the muddy and slippery Leogang course in the Austrian Alps.

The 28-year-old went alone from the pack on the first climb of the race, and despite a mechanical continued to gain ground on a lead group including Anne Terpstra (Netherlands), Evie Richards (GB) and Rebecca McConnell (Australia).

Ferrand-Prévot eventually won by nearly three minutes, with Eva Lechner (Italy) and McConnell taking second and third place. The victory is Ferrand-Prévot’s  third title after 2015 in Vallnord, Andorra, and 2019 in Mont Sainte-Anne, Quebec. She also took the road world title in 2014, and the cyclocross title the year after.

“It was a really amazing race,” she said. “I wanted to achieve a very good start to be able to make a gap in climbs and descents, because I knew it could be a bit tense going downhill if we were riding in a group … I wasn’t expecting such a
big gap. I wanted to be safe until the end and keep my calm and ride at a good pace.”

After an operation for iliac endofibrosis in the left leg in January 2019, the Frenchwoman had returned to action at the end of August last year, but had to have further surgery in early January 2020 for the same injury.

The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to summer 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic gave Ferrand-Prévot a little more time to recover from her subsequent operation, allowing her to return to form with a third-place and victory at World Cup races in Nove Mesto at the start of October.

-AFP Contributed to this report