Ineos Grenadiers’ multi-discipline stars Tom Pidcock and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot kick-started their 2024 mountain bike seasons in an important Olympic year with victories at the Shimano Supercup Massi round in La Nucía, Spain at the weekend.
The pair are the respective men’s and women’s elite cross-country mountain bike World Champions and both donned their rainbow jerseys as they rode to solo victories.
Pidcock makes his road debut at the Volta ao Algarve on Wednesday before switching his focus to a reduced spring Classics campaign, with the Tour de France and Paris Olympics highlighted as key objectives. He seems to have no problem in switching from road training to mountain bike racing and back into stage racing.
He faced serious competition from last year’s winner in La Nucía, Samuel Gaze (Alpecin-Deceuninck). Gaze is the MTB short-track World Champion and finished second to Pidcock in the cross-country race at Worlds in Scotland last summer.
The New Zealand rider was ahead of Pidcock in the opening laps until the Briton closed him down and made his winning move on the final ascent of the climb, winning with an eventual margin of 26 seconds.
“I’ve been on a long training camp now so it was a bit difficult to get into the race rhythm,” said Pidcock after the finish.
“But I think the endurance came out at the end. It’s difficult for these explosive climbs but I think it’s a nice way to start the year. Seems to be becoming quite a continual thing, having a battle with Sam in MTB races so more of that this year.”
After announcing that she has a new agent and so could look to leave Ineos and join one of the major women’s WorldTour teams in 2025, Ferrand-Prévot was supreme on her season debut and won by 50 seconds from Nicole Koller and Savilla Blunk on her 32nd birthday.
The 12-time World Champion across MTB, road, gravel and cyclocross is into her second year with Ineos Grenadiers, with 2024 set to be her final season unless she extends with the British team.
Ferrand-Prévot’s primary focus for 2024 is the Paris Olympics, with a cross-country mountain bike gold medal being one of the very few titles missing from her illustrious palmarès.
Mountain bike and cyclocross have become her main disciplines in the past few seasons with no appearances on the road since the French national championships in 2021, but Ferrand-Prévot has indicated that a return to road is in her future ambitions.
“I do miss it, especially now that we have a Tour de France for women,” Ferrand-Prévot told Ineos Grenadiers teammate Geraint Thomason on his podcast.
“I would like to ride the Tour de France one day. Right now I’m very focused on the Paris Olympics, but why not get back to road racing next year, or the year after? I would like that.”
It’s no surprise to see the Tour de France Femmes impacting her desire to return to the road where she would race on home roads as an established icon of the sport.
Her only road world title came in 2014 when she made history as the only rider ever simultaneously to hold the elite road, cyclocross and mountain bike cross-country World Championship titles.
A feat the multi-discipline stars in the men’s peloton haven’t been able to replicate. Mathieu van der Poel won both the cyclocross and road world titles in 2023 but crashed in the MTB race won by Pidcock, highlighting the decade of consistent excellence that Ferrand-Prévot has produced.
However, if Ineos Grenadiers are to keep the services of Ferrand-Prévot and oversee what would be a highly-anticipated return to the road, they will need to invest more into the women’s side of the sport and start a full women’s team built around their French star.
She’s the only female rider on the British team which means she won’t be making it onto the Tour de France Femmes start line anytime soon if the Ineos setup remains the same.
Other teams will be raring to fight for that signature to offer her a place on their Tour squads, so the British team will have to act fast and confirm any plans to create a women’s team.