Richards secures Commonwealth title with perfect ride at Cannock Chase

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England’s Evie Richards stormed to an incredible gold medal after a dominant performance in the women’s mountain bike race at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Report: British Cycling
All photos: SWPix

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Richards ripped up the course at Cannock Chase to add to Team England’s medal tally, going one better than her 2018 silver medal in Australia, while Isla Short took a hard-fought fourth for Team Scotland.

Earlier in the day Northern Ireland’s Cameron Orr and England’s Joe Blackmore just missed out on medals with fourth and fifth place respectively in the men’s race, and Scotland’s Charlie Aldridge suffered a devastating mechanical while sitting in third position to put him out of contention.

Women’s race

World champion Richards and Scotland’s Isla Short set the pace early on, opening a gap on the first lap, with Candice Lill of South Africa and Australia’s Zoe Cuthbert chasing. Richards rode away comfortably, before Short had a wobble on a rocky section to enable Richards to grow her advantage.

Crossing the line on the first lap, Richards had a margin of 13 seconds, while Short led the chase with Lill and Cuthbert. Richards looked strong, opening the gap to 34 seconds, but having recently suffered with a back injury and Covid-19, the race was by no means over.

Short and Lill continued to chase, with Cuthbert just staying in contact before being distanced on the fourth lap.

At the halfway point, Richards had a lead of 43 seconds over Short and Lill, with the 25-year-old showing lightning speed on the berms and impressive technique on the rocky sections.

Cuthbert fought back to the chasing group on the fifth lap, before putting in a surprise attack, with Lill following but dropping Short in the process.

Richards began to lap the field as her dominance continued but slid in the grass section, and while she recovered quickly, her advantage was dented to 26 seconds.

Cuthbert and Lill chased hard as Richards refocused with two laps to go, growing her advantage back out, coming into the final lap with 41 seconds over Cuthbert, while Lill dropped 49 seconds back in third. Short battled on in fourth place.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

A powerful last lap from Richards saw her soar to gold with a roaring crowd bringing her home. The 21-year-old Cuthbert dug deep to take silver 47 seconds behind, while Lill won the bronze. Short took fourth with an impressive ride for Team Scotland.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – Evie RICHARDS, England wins GOLD, Silver Zoe CUTHBERT, Australia and Bronze, Candice LILL, South Africa

Afterwards Richards said:

“I just really wanted to put on a bit of a show today and try and inspire some younger girls to see what they can do in the future. I wanted to put on a show and if that meant leading from the front and dying off, I was willing to take that risk.

“It’s been quite a lot of pressure this year, especially as I’ve got a few injuries and a lot of illness. I’ve got amazing coaches, an amazing psychologist, and a great family, so they do the best job of managing the pressure for me.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

“It’s so special to be here at the Commonwealth Games. I was supposed to be out in the World Cup with my team but I just really wanted to be here. It’s been a long time since my family have watched me race and to be a world champion on home soil, it doesn’t happen very much.”

Men’s race

It was a New Zealand one-two in the men’s race, with a surprise bronze for Namibia after Scotland’s Charlie Aldridge suffered a mechanical.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games winner Sam Gaze of New Zealand put in a big attack off the line to lead into the first single track section, followed by Aldridge and Cameron Orr of Northern Ireland.

At the steep twin peaks section, Gaze and compatriot Ben Oliver led the 11-rider group, with Aldridge and Orr comfortably on their wheels.

Gaze, Oliver, Aldridge, and Orr managed to gain a gap, easing through the rocky section and dropping the pace slightly, before the New Zealand duo pressed on and established a lead.

Team England’s Joe Blackmore and Harry Birchill led the chasing group, while Aldridge managed to close the gap to the New Zealand pair with Orr on his tail.

Gaze and Oliver crossed the line on the first lap just six seconds ahead of Aldridge and Orr, with the chasing contingent 25 seconds back.

With an intense first lap completed, Gaze and Oliver were already well ahead, while Aldridge and Orr chased, with England’s Blackmore then joined them on the third lap.

Gaze and Oliver were a minute up from the trio at the halfway point, before Aldridge showed his strength and stormed ahead to form a gap. Blackmore chased, dropping Orr in the process, but it wasn’t meant to be for the Scotsman, as he slipped on the grass section, breaking his derailleur and putting him out of contention for a medal.

The sixth lap saw Gaze ride away from Oliver, establishing himself as the strongest rider on the day. Blackmore and Orr were again locked in to compete for the bronze, but coming into the final lap they were joined by Namibian Alex Miller. Orr put on the pressure, but Miller attacked on the hilly section and gained an instant 10 second advantage.

Gaze claimed his second consecutive Commonwealth title, with Oliver taking silver, and Miller took the bronze for Namibia. The battle for fourth ended in a photo finish, with Orr just edging ahead of Blackmore after brilliant rides from the pair of young riders.

Birchill finished eighth, while Northern Ireland’s Chris McGlinchey took ninth. Aldridge showed commendable resilience to finish the race a lap behind.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – Samuel GAZE, New Zealand wins GOLD and Ben Oliver, Silver and Alexander MILLER, NAMIBIA, 3rd takes BRONZE
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  • This topic has 10 replies, 11 voices, and was last updated 2 days ago by kerley.
Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Richards secures Commonwealth title with perfect ride at Cannock Chase
  • Premier Icon igm
    Free Member

    It was an excellent ride, but given she fell off at one point, not perfect. 😉

    “Dominant performance” you can have

    And either way, still far better than I could do.

    Premier Icon desperatebicycle
    Free Member

    She didn’t fall off, she dabbed 😀

    Premier Icon Blazin-saddles
    Free Member

    “Incredible”? She’s the current UCI World XCO champion. I’d have thought it very credible, was hardly a stacked field, I’d have assumed she’d win without seeing any reports.

    Premier Icon mos
    Free Member

    Given that Isla beat Evie at the nationals the other week, hardly a foregone conclusion that Evie would win. I hope that they both do well for the rest of season and at worlds.

    Premier Icon Kayak23
    Full Member

    Was it just follow the dog, or did they include the monkey?

    Premier Icon johnjn2000
    Full Member

    @mos, there is a pretty big gap between isla and Evie to be fair. Not sure what happened at the nationals but Evie is by far the stronger athlete and I can see why @Blazin-saddles said that.

    Had I been aware that there were only 9 riders in the field and one was Evie I would have put my house on her winning. I will admit to being a bit of a fan boi (if a fat old man can be a boi) I just love her attitude, her strength, and her determination to get better and better. If she sorts out this back issue I think she will have a good few years of success ahead of her.

    Premier Icon robertajobb
    Full Member

    Seeing her win put a big smile on my face yesterday. Well done Evie.
    As for the rest of the field, she can only race the field that turns up on the start line.

    Premier Icon TheGingerOne
    Free Member

    Given she has missed a lot of the season due to a back injury which I think she is still recovering from and she had Covid recently, it really wasn’t guaranteed.

    The course was also very flat which didn’t play to Isla’s strengths unfortunately.

    Premier Icon wipperman95
    Free Member

    I thought her interview afterwards was interesting; She mentioned having the Olympic & World champions in this country, but not seeing enough riders coming through in the sport; and trying to inspire kids to take up the sport, as ‘MTB is cool’. If she can’t inspire them, then nobody can.

    Premier Icon kerley
    Free Member

    Given she has missed a lot of the season due to a back injury which I think she is still recovering from and she had Covid recently, it really wasn’t guaranteed.

    Yep, looking at her XCO results this year would not make me think it was guaranteed either but then it is the Commonwealth games where I (a 55 year old man who has never done a days training in his life) could have competed with the last place TT entrant who took almost 1hr 10m for a 22 mile course!

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