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French climbing sensation Évita Muzic poised for bigger things in 2021

Breakthrough victory at Giro Rosa came years in the making for the 21-year-old emerging star.

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A breakthrough stage victory at the Giro Rosa sees 21-year-old Évita Muzic emerge as one of the most promising young riders in the peloton.

The victory, coming out of a breakaway in the final stage of the mountaintop finale at Motta Mortecorvino, was years in the making. Though she’s barely legal drinking age in the United States, the young French rider is a homegrown talent for FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope team.

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Muzic joined the team following a string of promising junior racing results in 2018, and after a few years learning the ropes in the pro ranks, she delivered a textbook-perfect win against the elite of the women’s peloton.

“That victory was very important for me,” Muzic told VeloNews. “I’ve been racing since I was 5 years old, and finally, all the hard work is paying off. I was not expecting the victory. It was something that I expected to come later, so I was very happy.”

Muzic went to the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile to help team captain Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, who ended up fourth overall. In the final stage, a lumpy 110km circuit around Motta Mortecorvino, Muzic and teammate Brodie Chapman rode into the day’s main breakaway. The duo worked well together, with Chapman attacking early to split the bunch to set up Muzic going into the final climbs. Though she had won at the junior and U23 level, taking the “W” in the prestigious Giro Rosa was a new level.

“At the time, I did not realize how big it was to win. And then I started to receive so many messages,” she said in a telephone interview. “It was the last stage of the race, and our sport director told us to follow the moves. I was in a good group with Brodie [Chapman], and I knew I had good legs. Brodie attacked hard with one lap to go and that really set me up for the win.”

Muzic delivered on her promise and powered away from an elite group for her first professional win.

“I am a good climber, but I can also go well in small bunch sprints,” she said. “On that day, I knew I wanted to be first in the final corner. I just went as hard as I could, and I could not believe it — that I won. It was like a dream.”

‘Along with Cecilie, Muzic is the future of the team’

Muzic grew up in the Jura Mountains near the Western Alps, along the French-Swiss border, and joined her brother and father on training rides. After watching the Tour de France, she dreamed of becoming a professional racer. She’s now based in Grenoble along the edge of the French Alps, where she trains regularly with her boyfriend, Eddy Finé, a WorldTour pro on Cofidis.

“I always loved racing,” she said. “It was always my dream to do cycling. I went to university to study to become a teacher, but I had some good results with the French national team. I was offered a chance to join the team, and now I can do this as my job. I am very grateful.”

The victory was also sweet deliverance for her FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope team, one of three victories in the truncated 2020 season. The long-running French team has quietly been building out its roster with higher-level riders, but Muzic is a French rider who came up through the French development team before joining the pro ranks in 2018.

She’s the personification of how the French cycling community wants to develop women’s racing going into the next decade.

“Évita is the best example of the development of the team,” said FDJ manager Stephen Delcourt. “She came to our team as a stagiaire and every year, she has increased her level step by step. Now she is a very good international rider, and the most important thing, she can win.”

Delcourt said the sky is quite literally the limit for Muzic. Already a steady climber, Delcourt said Muzic has the potential to emerge as an all-round rider capable of winning across diverse terrain.

“Right now, she is already a very good climber,” he told VeloNews. “She can improve, but at 21, she is already one of the best pure climbers in the peloton. Now we need to work more on her power, on her time trial, to truly know her limit. Along with Cecilie, she is the future of the team. We do not yet if she can become a winner of stage races, or develop into the best climber in the world. We have her with a three-year contract, and with that time, we can build for the future.”

For Muzic, she’s hopeful that if she keeps living and training as hard as she has so far that more victories are on the horizon.

“I’ve always admired Marianne Vos and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot,” Muzic said. “In fact, I had never spoken to Marianne before except to say hi during the races, and on the morning of my victory at the Giro Rosa, we were on the elevator together and we spoke for the first time. Maybe that was a good sign for me.”

And with a women’s Tour de France likely by 2022, Muzic will have plenty of time to make more cycling dreams come true.

Évita Muzic is poised for bigger things in 2021. Photo: Sean Robinson/velofocus.com