Pauline Ferrand Prevot wins 2021 European Championship and retains her title
She was the top favourite and she has not failed, the French Pauline Ferrand Prevot has won the 2021 XCO European Championship in Novi Sad, Serbia. A race that she controlled and won with authority.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot is proclaimed 2021 European XCO champion
Even with some big absentees, this European Championships started with a high level starting grid that included the French Pauline Ferrand Prevot, the Dutch Anne Terpstra, Yaina Belomoina from Ukraine or the Swiss Linda Indergand. The circuit of Novi Sad, in Serbia, also seemed to be the protagonist of the day as it was characterised by an urban park layout, more typical of cyclo-cross than XCO.
From the start, the front-runners took the lead with Anne Terpstra, Swiss Alessandra Keller, Pauline Ferrand Prevot and team-mate Lena Gerault pulling the group. But if in other races these initial positions might be anecdotal, in Novi Sad they allowed them to avoid much of the dust raised by the peloton and not have to look for the few gaps in the circuit where they can overtake.
A few metres from the start there was a small blockage in a tight spot that trapped Spain's Natalia Fischer. That bad start was followed by an unfortunate flat tyre that put Fischer out of the race on the first lap.
In a 7-lap race, without an initial loop, the first two laps went by without any major movement, but by the start of lap 3 there were already 9 riders in the leading group who had managed to open up a small gap with the rest.
After that first selection, Poland's Maja Wloszczowska tried the first attack of the day, which was joined by Terpstra and Pauline Ferrand Prevot and gave them a small advantage that was short-lived.
At the start of lap 4 the lead group, led by Ukrainian national champion Iryna Popova, was again large. Despite this, the feeling was that France's Pauline Ferrand Prevot was controlling the race and waiting for her chance.
A chance that she tested midway through lap 4, right in the middle of the race, when Pauline launched the hardest attack of the day so far and with which she did gain a lead that could prove to be definitive.
By half a lap, Ferrand Prevot was already half a minute ahead of Popova, who led a chasing group of four riders that included Dutch riders Tauber and Terpstra, and Swiss rider Indergand. Everything seemed to indicate that the victory depended on the Frenchwoman and the fight would be for the rest of the continental medals.
The last lap bell rang with Pauline Ferrand Prevot riding first, 01:08 minutes behind Anne Terpstra of the Netherlands and 01:31 minutes ahead of Anne Tauber also from the Netherlands. The race, as far as medal places were concerned, seemed a foregone conclusion.
With no more surprises, Pauline Ferrand Prevot reached the finish line alone and managed to win her second consecutive European Championship. A result that will surely be a boost for the Frenchwoman ahead of the next World Championships in Val di Sole.
Anne Terpstra and Anne Tauber from the Netherlands took silver and bronze respectively.
Results 2021 European XCO Women's Championships
- Pauline Ferrand Prevot FRA 01:26:36
- Anne Terpstra NED 01:27:54
- Anne Tauber NED 01:28:14
- Iryna Popova UKR 01:28:45
- Linda Indergand SUI 01:28:48
- Janika Loiv EST 01:28:49
- Githa Michiels BEL 01:28:53
- Maja Wloszczowska POL 01:29:28
- Alessandra Keller SUI 01:29:43
- Sophie von Berswordt NED 01:29:50