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Evita Muzic: My dream is to become world champion one day

The French climber says finishing the Tour de France Femmes in front of her family will be a day she remembers 'for all of my life.'

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Climbing talent Evita Muzic yearns to wear the rainbow stripes one day.

The 23-year-old, who rides for FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope, is fast developing into one of the peloton’s top stars. She enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2020 with a stage win at the Giro d’Italia Donne and took the prestigious French national road race title last season.

After another big step up this year, Muzic wants to continue her consistent progression under the guidance of team leaders Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Marta Cavalli. Among her hopes for the future are that fabled rainbow jersey and a full-on tilt at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift’ yellow jersey.

“I want to do the best that I can, but my dream is to become world champion one day. I don’t know if I will be able to, but I will do all I can to do this,” Muzic told VeloNews. “I would also like to maybe be the leader of the team in a stage race like the Tour because so I’m French in the French team so the Tour is more special. But now I just learn with Cecilie and Marta and try to be more like them every year.”

Also read: Evita Muzic goes back to her roots with return to cyclocross

Muzic has grown along with the FDJ squad and is one of the few riders that has seen it develop from what was effectively a French development team into one of the top Women’s WorldTeams. She joined back in 2018 shortly after the investment came in from FDJ and has stepped up each season, as has the team.

“I have seen the difference when I start, like, I have no salary, and there is really just one or two staff for team,” she said. “When we start a competition, we want to win and, before, we just wanted to finish in the points. I think a lot of things have changed now. The team has confidence in me, and I have confidence in them. We have a lot more years to do good.”

She has three more years to “do good” to be precise after she extended her contract with the team through 2025 earlier in June. The new contract comes off the back of a very strong season for Muzic with a win at the Alpes Gresivaudan Classic, second overall at the Vuelta a Burgos, and an eighth-place finish in the general classification at the Tour de France Femmes.

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However, the year did not start so well as she had to sit out the early-season races while she recovered from a knee injury that she had picked up on the final stage of the Women’s Tour last October. She immediately went into her off-season and thought she had recovered from the fall but realized that there was something wrong when she started training again for the new season.

“It was hard mentally,” Muzic said. “Normally, I break for four weeks but, when I restarted, I had pain in my knee, but no one could find out what was the problem with my knee. I continued to ride until December. I was just sometimes doing 30 minutes on the trainer, and it was not better. So, I do many examinations, and finally, we just find the problem in January.

“I did the surgery in January. I think I lost two months trying to find the problem. It was hard not knowing what is the problem, but it was better after we found it. I know that I have a goal of the Tour de France, and I have time to come back for this. This helped me a lot during the winter.”

The hard work paid off and she enjoyed one of her best results of the year at the Tour de France, finishing in eighth place just behind her teammate Uttrup Ludwig in seventh. She had started the race in a support role but, though she still had to work for Uttrup Ludwig, was given more responsibility after Cavalli crashed out on the second stage.

The moment was made extra special as the finish at the Planche des Belles Filles was far from where she grew up in Lons-le-Saunier. Big crowds turned out for her on the final stage with many wearing t-shirts with her face on it, thanks to her father.

“It was hard to be able to be in shape [after the knee injury], but also this to motivate me, and I was happy to be there because it was close to my home and my family and friends came,” she said. “It finished good for me. I didn’t have an objective [finishing] place, but finishing seventh and eighth on the GC was good.

“My father brought lots of people with a big bus and he made lots of t-shirts and flags and everything. I have also a bit of pressure to finish the Tour because I know they were coming on the last day, so I don’t want to crash or have Covid before anything like this.

“The final day was an exceptional day for me. I wanted to do better, but it was the last day so you know you’ll finish, and I knew I will have all my family and friends, so it was very special. I will remember this day for all of my life.”