Pauline Ferrand-Prévot won the women’s short track event at the Les Gets World Cup. The Frenchwoman and defending World Champion put in a last-lap attack to beat Sina Frei and Jenny Rissveds by four seconds.
Reigning Olympic Champion Rissveds led the race from the gun, but the pack stayed together with multiple lead changes. Loana Lecomte, who won the last round in Leogang, dabbed during the grassy climb, losing time that she couldn’t make up.
Former winner Evie Richards looked to be moving up mid-race, but she suffered a dropped chain that took her out of contention.
In the final laps, Rissveds put in multiple attacks but couldn’t get away from the other racers. Ferrand-Prévot clearly had the better legs on the final lap as Rissveds and Frei couldn’t follow her winning move.
“It was a tough race and also I think a technical one so I wanted to stay as much as possible,” Ferrand-Prevot said after the race, also noting that she wanted to stay out of the wind.
“I’m happy because I'm feeling better and better,” she said as her ultimate goal of the Tokyo Olympics approaches. However, she noted that it may be a struggle to keep up with fellow French rider Lecomte during Sunday’s XCO race.
“I will do everything I can to get this medal.”
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The men’s race was next to go off and Mathias Flückiger won again after dominating in Leogang last round.
Anton Cooper took the holeshot but didn’t stay in the lead for long. Pacemaking was taken over by a lead group featuring Flückiger, Nino Schurter, and Ondrej Cink, among others.
Notably, Tom Pidcock, who is coming back from a broken collarbone, did not have a great start. He eventually surfed through the wheels, making it all the way up to the top-5. A mid-race crash took the Briton out, but he recovered and rode over the line in 16th place.
Schurter, who was quickly out of contention in Leogang after slipping his pedals, had a great start and was in the lead group for much of the race. The final laps saw the reigning Olympic Champion drop back to ninth place.
As the pace picked up during the penultimate lap, Fluckiger made his move up the grassy climb. World Champion Sarrou made a valiant chase effort, with French fans cheering on their fellow countryman. He made up time but was one second back across the line.
The ever-consistent Cink came third.
“I suffered a lot,” Flückiger said in a post-race interview with Red Bull TV.
“I tried to follow first Ondrej so he made the pace, and I was lucky I could draft in his wheel,'' he said. “I knew on the second last lap I have to attack and I did it.”
Flueckiger said he will train at altitude before traveling to Japan for the Olympics.
The Les Gets World Cup continues with the downhill race on Saturday and the XCO race on Sunday.