Unbeatable! Pauline Ferrand-Prevot wins the XCO World Championship 2023
She started as favorite and only needed one lap to launch a relentless attack that lasted almost the entire race. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot has won the 2023 XCO World Championship without giving any rival a chance.
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot retains the rainbow jersey and becomes XCO 2023 World Champion
Rain made its appearance a few hours before the start and the Glentress Forest course in Tweed Valley became more technical in a matter of minutes. In return, the race would be held in the most Scottish setting and atmosphere possible.
French Loana Lecomte and Dutch Puck Pieterse were the first to take command of the race during the initial loop, but most of the favorites remained in the front zone and the news was a little further back. Specifically, 9 seconds behind and in 13th position, just where the defending champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot was. This "bad start" could be due to her form after winning the Short Track World Championship, to her choice for a hardtail mountain bike (the new Dogma XC HT) or it could simply be part of her strategy.
It was during lap 1 of 7 when we saw the first major change in the race. Lecomte, with her crushing pace and without hesitation in the technical areas, managed to open a gap of about 10 seconds with respect to Puck Pieterse and Italian Martina Berta, the first pursuers.
Lecomte's tranquility was short-lived and on lap 2 Ferrand Prevot launched a change of pace that cleared any doubts, jumped out of the chasing group, caught Lecomte and continued his attack to stay first with 10 seconds ahead of his compatriot and 26 seconds on Puck Pieterse. Ferrand Prevot was flying.
It is not the first time we have seen France dominate a Championship of this type, and on lap 4 it seemed clear that the superiority of Ferrand-Prevot and Lecomte had split the race in two. Pauline was still going strong in first position and Lecomte was struggling not to lose any more time from second position, half a minute behind her teammate.
The excitement was in the fight for the bronze medal and to opt for it the Swiss Alessandra Keller made a change of pace with which took off Puck Pieterse and Britain's Evie Richards. Up to that point the group of 3 were running 01:10 minutes behind the race leader. Just behind them was Austrian Mona Mitterwallner, who after winning the XCM World Championship a week ago could have a great end of the race.
It was only on the penultimate lap that Pauline Ferrand-Prevot seemed to relax a little from the relentless 6-lap attack that took her more than 1 minute ahead of second-placed Loana Lecomte.
The excitement was still high for the bronze. There Mona Mitterwallner had dynamited the chasing group and after overtaking Evie Richards and Alessandra Keller she had just over a lap to overtake Puck Pieterse.
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot started the last lap in first position but did not relax and after a short break her pace increased for the umpteenth time and the gap to Lecomte increased again, already over 01:11 minutes.
Mitterwallner was having an epic end of the race and was in medal position while Puck Pieterse was doing his best to try to get back in contact with the Austrian.
After a perfect race, Pauline Ferrand Prevot arrived first at the finish line to be proclaimed XCO World Champion once again.
Loana Lecomte took silver at 01:14 minutes and finally the bronze medal went to the Dutch Puck Pieterse after overtaking Mitterwallner in the last meters.
2023 Elite Women's XCO World Championships Results
- FERRAND PREVOT Pauline FRA - 1:24:14
- LECOMTE Loana FRA +1:14
- PIETERSE Puck NED +1:27
- MITTERWALLNER Mona AUT +1:31
- KELLER Alessandra SUI +2:23
- RICHARDS Evie GBR +2:39
- BERTA Martina ITA +4:10
- GIBSON Gwendalyn USA +4:17
- NEFF Jolanda SUI +4:22
- BLUNK Savilia USA +5:00