Pauline Ferrand-Prevot : "In my opinion, this race is the best in the world"
April 17 th 2018 - 15:08
How do you feel heading into the Flèche Wallonne?
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot: “Quite good actually! I feel that I am getting stronger, although I haven’t especially prepared for the start of the season. I decided to focus on the World Championships that will take place at the end of the year. But I am taking my training seriously and I can tell you that I am happy with the progress I have made. I am heading into this classic in better form than last year. I am really looking forward to it. I don’t fear anything, but I do feel the excitement.
How have you trained for the race?
After the Amstel Gold Race (Sunday), we rode the Mur de Huy again yesterday morning (Monday 16)! You have to say focused because the key to this climb is the mental approach. The Flèche is a very special race with a lot of elevation change and climbs that are as long as they are steep. It’s an effort that needs to be anticipated but it suits me rather well. I feel more at ease than I do when preparing for a time trial. I train near my home in Fréjus on a terrain that corresponds to my expectations. It is perfect for understanding the Ardennes classics. Except for the Course by the Tour de France, female cycling never really competes in races with major climbs.
What do you think about the current image of women’s cycling?
Generally, I am optimistic. I think it is heading in the right direction with the arrival, a few years ago, of the Tour of Flanders and the Strade Bianche, and more recently the addition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège to the calendar. It is very positive, even though we always want more. Perhaps there needs to be races organised for the pure climbers like Anna van der Breggen or Ashleigh Moolman, who are more comfortable in the individual effort required on the climbs, where you compete against yourself. We complain about the lack of resources allocated to women's cycling but we must first look at the media coverage. When our sport is recognized, the sponsors will come.
What memories do you have of previous races in the Ardennes?
For me the Flèche is still the best race in the world. I realized this in 2014 when I won it. It was already a legendary race, that caught my attention, but to win it increased my love for it tenfold. The entire team wants to put in a great race on Wednesday. It promises to be aggressive, because we’re not going to wait for the Mur de Huy to attack, except, perhaps for Katarzyna Niewiadoma, who has a reputation for putting in punchy attacks. I have a sense she is ultra-motivated this year, she finished third in all of the Ardennes classics last year. I will be there to help her reach her objective.