Pauline Ferrand-Prévot

Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. Photo: Instagram/paulineferrandprevot

Pauline Ferrand-Prévot: France's Cycling Champion Chases Olympic Gold

Despite three appearances at the Olympic Games, Ferrand-Prévot has yet to stand on the podium. But Paris 2024 could change that.

In the world of cycling, few athletes can match the versatility and dominance of Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. The French cyclist has conquered multiple disciplines, from road racing to cyclo-cross and mountain biking. But as she approaches the Paris 2024 Olympics, there's one glaring omission from her impressive resume: an Olympic medal. 

Born in Reims, France, cycling ran in Ferrand-Prévot’s blood. With parents who ran a cycling school and an uncle, Ludovic Dubau, who was 1994 French XCO Champion, you’d think that would mean an obvious push into cycling. However, Ferrand-Prévot’s mother was not exactly excited about her daughter cycling initially.

"My mother, who competed as a cyclist, didn't necessarily want me to ride a bike, because she said it wasn't feminine enough,” Ferrand-Prévot said in an interview with Redbull. She tried her hand at modelling and figure skating to please her parents, but eventually was able to convince them that cycling was the sport for her. 

By 12, Ferrand-Prévot had already won her first French junior championship. From there, her ascent in the cycling world was meteoric. Turning pro as a teenager in 2011, Ferrand-Prévot quickly established herself as a force to be reckoned with across multiple cycling disciplines.

Her crowning achievement came in 2014-2015 when at 23, she became the first cyclist, male or female, to simultaneously hold world championship titles in road cycling, cyclo-cross, and mountain bike cross-country. This feat left the cycling world in awe and cemented her status as one of the most versatile athletes in the sport's history.

But for all her success, Olympic glory has remained elusive. Despite three appearances at the Olympic Games, Ferrand-Prévot has yet to stand on the podium. Her best finish came in London 2012, where she placed eighth in the road race. Now, with Paris 2024 on the horizon, the 32-year-old has her sights set firmly on an Olympic medal. The home crowd advantage and the familiar terrain could be just what she needs to finally break through.

Ferrand-Prévot's impact extends beyond her athletic achievements, as she has become a vocal advocate for greater recognition of women in sports, challenging gender stereotypes and pushing for parity in cycling. Ferrand-Prévot has previously emphasised the importance of female representation in sports leadership. As reported by Olympics.com, the cyclist told JDD in an interview that "It's important to have women in positions of power and for a form of parity to be established in sport, among national coaches and in important positions within federations. It affects me all the more because I represent a discipline where the difference in exposure with men is very great." 

As Paris 2024 approaches, Ferrand-Prévot has made a surprising announcement: this will be her last year competing in mountain biking. In an interview with Eurosport, she stated, "It's my last chance to try to be Olympic champion so I don't want to miss it."

This decision adds an extra layer of drama to her Olympic quest, capping off an illustrious mountain biking career with the ultimate prize. But don't think this means retirement for Ferrand-Prévot. The multi-talented cyclist has hinted at a potential return to road racing, expressing interest in competing in the Tour de France Femmes. It seems that even as one chapter closes, another may be opening for this cycling superstar.

As the clock ticks down to Paris 2024, all eyes will be on Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. Can she finally clinch that Olympic medal? Will her home crowd propel her to victory? One thing's for certain: win or lose, Ferrand-Prévot's impact on cycling will be felt for generations to come.