World Champ Pauline Ferrand-Prevot Eyes A Repeat Win

(Road Bike Action & AFP; Photo: Bettini)

Defending champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot of France is confident entering Saturday’s road race at the World Road Cycling Championships after having completed a historic hat trick of women’s global crowns. The 23-year-old won the world cyclo-cross and world mountain bike titles this year after taking the 2014 road race, becoming the first rider in cycling history with such a versatile world title treble. Now Ferrand-Prevot faces the challenge of trying to keep her rainbow jersey and she likes her repeat chances.

“I’m really motivated to keep this world championship,” she said. “Since my mountain bike title, I was extremely motivated. Training these days was not a problem. When you win a world title, you are motivated to work. I’ll be in very good form, much better than last year. I think I can play a leading role on Saturday.”

Ferrand-Prevot sees her usual Rabo-Liv club teammate, Dutch star Anna Van der Bruggen, and Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead as major rivals in her repeat bid.

“It’s not just me,” she said. “Van der Breggen. I also think Lizzie Armitstead won a lot of times this year when it passes the bumps and is very fast in the sprint. I can see her among the big favorites.”

The Dutch are without Marianne Vos, a three-time world champion and five-time runner-up who scrapped her season in June due to nagging injuries.

“I know the Dutch team is going to be prepared,” Van der Breggen said. “It’s going to be exciting. We’re ready for it. That rainbow jersey is the most beautiful jersey there is.”

Other contenders include Belgian sprint star Julien d’Hoore, 2010 and 2011 world champion Giorgia Bronzini of Italy, Swede Emma Johansson, the 2013 runner-up who was third last year, and Germany’s Lisa Brennauer, last year’s runner-up who was third in her women’s time trial title defense. The 129.8km road course includes Libby Hill, a narrow 200m climb over cobblestones, a 19 percent slope up another short city rise and a 300m climb just before the finish line.

“I did not think it would be this hard,” Ferrand-Prevot said. “It’s clear that there will be no mass sprint in women. It’s a good thing.”

Ferrand-Prevot finished eighth in the 2012 Olympics road race as the youngest entrant and is already starting to plan for next year at Rio.

“The Rio Games, it will be a big goal,” she said. “For me, the preparation starts now. Last year, I arrived at the world championships less sure of my form. Now I feel like I’m really fit, like I want to win.”

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