Current XCO World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot has signed with Absolute Absalon–BMC, with a focus on the next Olympic Games.
Successful across all disciplines of cycling, Ferrand-Prévot will not compete on the road this year and instead go all-in on mountain biking with an eye on the Olympics, which is currently rescheduled for July 23 to August 8, 2021. She is also expected to race the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup schedule.
“I am really excited to be riding BMC, a brand with an envied racing pedigree and a Swiss excellence I find very inspiring,” Ferrand-Prevot said a news release from the team.
Most recently, the French rider won the XCO World Championships in Leogang, Austria.
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Canyon-SRAM announced in December that Ferrand-Prévot would be leaving the team to move “closer to the center of her life, her family. It’s a move we understand, and yet it’s one we know will leave a gap in our Canyon family.”
At that time, Ferrand-Prévot also confirmed her decision to change teams in 2021 on her Instagram feed.
“It’s time for me to open new doors, thanking all those who believed in me despite the hardships, have accompanied and supported me during these four years rich in intense memories,” wrote Ferrand-Prévot.
“We are all very happy and excited here at BMC to be welcoming Pauline to our family” said David Zurcher, CEO of BMC Switzerland, in the news release. “Like most of us, I knew the amazing athlete but I recently discovered a wonderful and inspiring person. Pauline is still young but an icon of the sport already and I am very proud she chose BMC for the next chapter of her career. "
Ferrand-Prévot is one of the most successful and versatile athletes with a professional career spanning nearly a decade. Although she has been winning races in mountain biking and road racing since she was in the youth category, she joined the professional ranks with Rabobank in 2012.
She has spent a significant portion of her career combing road, mountain bike and cyclo-cross disciplines, and she made history in 2015, at the age of 23, when she became the first cyclist to simultaneously hold world titles in all three disciplines.
It's been a turbulent few years for Ferrand-Prévot, who has twice undergone surgery to correct double iliac artery endofibrosis, from which she has fully recovered.
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She added two more rainbow jerseys to her long list of achievements last year, winning both the cross-country and marathon world titles at the 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont-Saint-Anne, Canada. Ferrand-Prévot went on to win a third elite mountain bike world title in Leogang, Austria in October, and will remain in the world champion’s jersey for another season.
Ferrand-Prévot decision to change teams means that she will not compete on the road events this year and has now strictly turned her attention to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
She competed in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, both on the road and mountain bike, which she told Cyclingnews were "horrible".
"I was injured, and it was going to be hard to win a medal. You can feel it very well when you're not 100 per cent, but you can't refuse to go to the Olympics," she told Cyclingnews in a feature interview titled Pauline Ferrand-Prévot: The five races that changed my life.
"There was a climb in the road race, and I don't know how many kilometres it was, but if you weren't in shape, you had no hope of being good in a race with that kind of profile, and I finished 26th," she said.
"In the mountain bike event, it was undoubtedly the race with the highest level [of competition] in four years. Everyone had prepared thoroughly, and so if you're not 100 per cent, there's no forgiveness. And it offered me no forgiveness: I was a 'DNF'."
Ferrand-Prévot aims to turn her form around ahead of this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo, and instead only focus on the cross-country race. For the 2021 season, she will only race mountain bike, and temporarily leave road and cyclo-cross disciplines behind.
“I have learned and improved a lot since 2016, in all areas,” she told VeloVert.com. "I know that I have to reach 100 per cent on D-Day, so I won’t be able to ride all my goals this year, so that especially means aligning with one discipline at the Olympics: mountain biking. I do not want to miss this deadline again.If I am beaten in 2021, it is because the others will be stronger, but for my part, I will have done everything to do the best."