Away from the men’s road scene for a moment and a word on French woman, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot who last week in winning the Mountain Bike World Championship at Valnord-Andorra became the first cyclist in history to simultaneously hold the World road title, World cyclo-cross title and World mountain bike title.
Her road title came in last September’s UCI World road championships and on 26 September this year she will get the chance to defend it and go one step further by winning all three championships in the same calendar year.
A extraordinary achievement for the 23 year old highlighting what is a huge talent. One quick look at her palmares and it would seem that up to now she’s a woman for the big occasion as all her major victories this year on the road, cross and mountain bike (a first place in stage 5 of the woman’s Giro aside) came in her major championships either nationally or internationally. When titles are on the line, this girl delivers.
Simultaneously holding all three titles is a record that is hard to see being beaten, certainly not in the men’s side of the sport given the complete lack of cross-over between the three sports. Only Zdenek Štybar is remotely close to doing a double. While still competing on the road in 2014, Štybar won the World cross title, though he didn’t defend it this year.
Back with the men’s road scene, a mention about the six stage Tour of Alberta that wrapped up on Sunday, won by Trek Factory rider, Bauke Mollema. Some of the racing was great to watch though the numbers of fans at the side of the road was a touch disappointing. Still, the scenery was spectacular when the race hit the Rockies for two summit finishes–both won by Tom-Jelte Slagter–but through which Mollema maintained his lead.
The weather was tough throughout with many of the stages raced in winter weather gear as temperatures plummeted to close to freezing at times. It was a tough all-round test, highlighted the day after the mountains when the race had sectors of dirt road thrown in, that mixed in with the rain, looked like North America’s very own Hell of the (Great White) North mud-bath. That race was won by Lasse-Norman Hansen of Cannondale-Garmin but only after the finish was neutralised when the chasing peloton took a wrong turn.
Still, a fine event of which the organisers can be proud, and it ties in nicely with the Grand Prix Cyclistes de Quebec and Montréal this coming Friday and Sunday respectively. I’ll be at the race in Montréal so will tweet some pictures and put together some form of report upon my return. Bauke Mollema will surely fancy his chances.