Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France) wins the inaugural Gravel World Championships in Veneto, Italy.

A first gravel rainbow jersey and fourth total for the season for Pauline Ferrand-Prévot

Amidst rumours of Ineos interest, the Frenchwoman says we'll learn more about her future next week.

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Pauline Ferrand-Prévot’s day started on the rollers. She expected a fast and hard start with the gravel climb that swung round onto the tarmac up to the Monte Berico.

But also, the Frenchwoman tells us after claiming yet another rainbow jersey, that she has a race on the Côte d’Azur tomorrow morning starting at 8.30am, in 15 hours time. So maybe she was just trying to get it done as quickly as possible.

“We went with three at the front and then the group came back,” Ferrand-Prévot says of that initial acceleration to try and thin out the 50-strong group on the elite women’s start line. “It was a big group and then I just tried to not stress too much and at one point there were some attacks and I knew the Italian girls were controlling the race so I knew I had to make the difference in the technical section.”

Finally, a front group of five was established, Lauren Stephens (USA) dropping to leave a quartet up ahead. “I didn’t know if they wanted to work with me but finally they did,” Ferrand-Prévot explains. “With four I thought maybe we could make it to the end. I tried to keep them motivated, it was not super easy.”

Putting herself at the front, motivating the girls riding with her to maintain the gap, was her best shot at yet another rainbow jersey. Despite having never competed in a gravel race previously, Ferrand-Prévot understood she was the favourite due to her seven-race unbeaten run since Les Gets in August, and wasn’t about to give up her winning streak.

“When it came to the finish I know [I can do] these things and that if it’s a small group I’m able to win,” the Frenchwoman continued, the lead group without regular time gap updates, occasionally taking an inquisitive glance behind to see if rivals could be spotted. In the end, Ferrand-Prévot could be relieved her collaborators didn’t down tools and refuse to help take her to the line. “When we came with 2 km to go I thought we’re safe and I could just think about the finish line.”

Having made their way into the walled medieval city of Cittadella, Ferrand-Prévot outsprinted the Swiss mountain biker Sina Frei to the line, with Italy’s Chiara Teocchi third. Germany’s Jade Teffeisen was fourth, having slipped her way up the final uphill grassy bends into the city. “On the last switchback I fully cramped and had to walk up the hill,” Stephens laughs afterwards about the same section of the course.

Although she won’t have much need for trade team jerseys as she continues to stack up rainbow ones, the 30-year-old was asked about recent rumours of a new partnership with the Ineos Grenadiers next season, but only said that news of her future would be coming very soon.

“I can’t say anything now because I’m not allowed to,” Ferrand-Prévot said. “But next week you’ll know more about it.”

For now, her immediate future is preoccupied with a hasty 700-kilometre dash west for the Roc d’Azur mountain bike event.

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