It looked for a few minutes like we might have two women’s mountain bike world champions on our small island, but as Tahnee Seagrave was knocked of the off the hot seat and then the podium in the Downhill, it’s Evie Richards that holds the solo claim to the honour.
The first British women’s XC mountain bike world champion, Evie has achieved what has eluded other British hopefuls over the years. Starting out with coaching and mentoring from the incredibly successful Tracy Moseley before securing a Trek Factory Racing contract, Evie has apparently balanced career, training and life to achieve a steady climb towards this weekend’s success.
Of course, she already has U23 cyclo cross world champion titles to her name, plus a collection of silver mountain bike medals at World Championships and Commonwealth Games. This latest title seems almost a natural progression to those achievements, though there can be no doubt of the effort it takes to get to and stay at this level of competition. At only 24 years old, she will now have plenty of choices to make about what to do next.
“Sky above me, earth below me, fire within me” was yesterday’s race quote and it certainly felt like the fire was in me🔥 I’m still a little bit speechless but just want to thank everyone who made this possible and sending big hugs to all the lovely people who have sent me a wonderful message they mean the world❤️🌈 🌎 📸 @rossbellphoto#worldchampion“Evie Richards
With the next Olympics just three years away, and a solid performance in Tokyo that saw her challenge the front of the field, that’s surely got to be on her mind. Will she stay with long term sponsor, Trek, for the ride? And will she continue to race both XC and cyclo cross? It certainly seems to be working for her right now. And we’ll let her enjoy the right now, and the glory of this World Champion’s title, before quizzing her to ask ‘What’s next?’. Enjoy the moment, Evie!
Evie has been part of British Cycling’s programme for some time, here’s their press release on her win:
EVIE RICHARDS MAKES HISTORY WITH MOUNTAIN BIKING WORLD TITLE
“Evie Richards made history on the slopes in Val di Sole, Italy as she became the first British woman to win the elite women’s cross-country race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.
Richards paced herself brilliantly, and once in the lead halfway through the second lap, she ensured there was enough time between her and the rest of the field, relentlessly increasing her advantage throughout the next three and half laps to the finish line.
“I didn’t think I’d ever be good enough to win a race like this – I’m so shocked, I cannot believe it!” said Richards after the race.
“With Covid it’s been really hard, and I’ve tried to stay positive – the last three weeks at home (after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games) have been amazing. I’ve trained so hard.
“I say when I’m happy I race well, and I truly have been happy the last three weeks at home and I think that shows today.”
The elite women’s race showed great promise from the start with a host of strong athletes in contention for the win. Great Britain held high hopes with Evie Richards, who narrowly missed out on a Short Track gold medal to Sina Frei (Switzerland) on Thursday in Val di Sole.
Starting on the second row, Richards made light work of the start loop, finding gaps to the front of the bunch ensuring she entered the start of lap one in third place. Lap one would see Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France) and Jolanda Neff (Switzerland) create some distance to the rest of the bunch as Evie worked hard alongside Frei to pull them back. Only one lap later, Neff had dropped back to fifth and Richards was up to second on her own chasing down Ferrand Prevot, 31 seconds ahead.
Richards fought hard through the second lap, catching Ferrand Prevot and leading the French rider over the line as they started lap three together. Not content on giving Ferrand Prevot an easy ride to the finish, Richards piled on the pressure across the course in both the uphill and downhill sections.
From then on in Richards never looked back, using every ounce of energy she had to ride away from a chasing group, gaining a handful of seconds every lap. On the finish line she would finish over one minute ahead of Anne Terpstra (Netherlands).
Richards spoke to RedBull TV after the race, saying: “I can’t believe it I’m really shocked. I didn’t have confidence going into this race, but the race plan was to have confidence. I said to you (Red Bull TV) I will have a time to shine – but obviously today was my time to shine. I’m just so shocked, I didn’t think I’d be able to do that today.”
Fellow British riders, Isla Short and Annie Last rode fantastic races, Short in particularly chasing down the front group from the off during the start loop, and showed consistency throughout the race to gain places and keep her lap times smooth, finishing in 14th. Last would follow home in 31st respectively.”
Read about our first encounter with Evie Richards here: