Former world road race champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot has described her 'nightmare' of a 2016 season, which has seen her beset with injury and illness.
The 24-year-old Frenchwoman, who held the rainbow stripes for road cycling, cyclo-cross and mountain biking at the same time in 2015, has been restricted to just nine days of racing this year.
She sustained a stress fracture near her knee over the winter, admitting she tried to come back too soon from the setback, before going on to suffer with allergies, sciatica and a hard crash in the run up to the Olympics.
"The Olympics were the dream of a life, but also my biggest fear ever since I started my winter with this stress fracture," she wrote on Facebook, announcing the end of her season.
Allergies were brought on by a move to the south of France, which she tried to treat with a course of antibiotics, but was forced to take corticoids to clear up the problem, which meant she was forbidden from racing.
Then sciatica pain reappeared in her left leg, making training an ordeal as she said she didn't have the strength to exceed 200 watts. Two lumbar punctures later and the Rabo-Liv rider was still not back to full strength.
She was working towards riding both the road race and the mountain bike event at the Olympic Games, finishing 26th on the road and abandoning the cross-country race.
“Every day I woke up telling myself that it was one day less to the biggest appointment of my career. Being world champion in three disciplines in one year was maybe the worst thing that happened to me. Even though injured, I trained harder every day without laying down arms,” she said.
"In the end, I didn’t really make up for the lost time, even if I was very serious. These Olympics were the result of a year of hell.”
She concluded: “I’m finishing my season on an abandon. I don’t know when I’ll get back on a bike. Cycling was what I loved to do the most, but it’s become my biggest nightmare.”
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