Britain’s Evie Richards started last week’s Under23 Women’s World Championships on the third row of the grid and no one (except for Simon Burney) held out any hope for her doing well in what was, not only her first cyclocross World Champs, but her first international cyclocross race ever! You’ll know by now that she worked her way quickly through the field and put in a truly world-class performance to win the title.
Those who know her, though, weren’t in the least bit surprised at her race. She’s been racing mountain bikes for a few years now and had won a silver medal at the World Mountain Bike Champs in Andorra in September last year. She has been mixing in rarified company too – having been riding for Tracy Moseley’s T-Mo racing last year and training on the Malvern Hills with Tracy and Liam Killeen, among others.
Once the dust (well, the deep mud and rain) had settled, we caught up with Evie for a few minutes to see how it was all soaking in.
(Can’t see the video? Click here)
grit.cx: To some observers, you seem to have come out of nowhere, certainly in international level cyclocross, but you’ve been working up to this moment for a while, haven’t you?
Evie: I would say I am definitely a new face for those on an international level, but my face is a regular at many of the local leagues! My coach (Julian Winn) and I decided to just enter me into ‘cross worlds and just make the one cross race I did abroad count. I have raced ‘cross nearly every weekend since October and even twice some weekends, as it was a way to add variety and get a good intense session, It’s just been a bonus that this training method has been really enjoyable and allowed me the chance to become a World Champion!
How was it, racing in a World Championships in Zolder? What was the course like compared to what you’re used to? And how about the crowds and the atmosphere?
I still can’t get over how amazing it was racing there. It was so windy and wet, yet on every corner there were random people shouting my name! I can’t even describe the atmosphere on the last lap, the crowds were going crazy and I was trying to not get too excited! I loved the course, it was such an great course to race on. It had great variety from the tight switchbacks, to the 25% steep sandy climb to some technical descents. I was so pleased that there was such good coverage of all the races online, as all my family felt like they could share the moment even though they weren’t actually in Belgium.
What bike were you on? Any special features or adjustments for the day?
I was lucky enough to be riding an old Katie Compton bike (Trek Boone 9, with Shimano Di2 gears), that added to the list of many bikes Tracy Moseley has kindly lent me. I have been riding a very different Trek bike as my number one bike all year, although it was not as blingy, I loved riding it as I had bought it with my [own] money from Trek and it was blue and pink, I think the colour is very important when racing! In course practice I rode both bikes, and Katie Compton’s bike just felt amazing, the disc brakes gave me so much more confidence descending, as i was more in control as the braking was more precise and responsive. The Di2 felt incredible on this course, as there were short sections with lots of different obstacles, changing gear was so fast and effortless. I am only young so I only have the tubs on [this] bike (Challenge, Limus) but these had so much grip I wouldn’t have wanted to change them. The only thing I could change one the day was the tyre pressure, which I lowered by a couple of PSI after doing a practice lap in the morning and noticing how the course was deteriorating. The final adjustment before my race, was running back to the tent to spay perfume on, as smelling good on the start line puts me in a good mood!
You’re not just a cyclocross racer, so you’re hardly going to be taking the rest of the year off. What are you plans from here on for 2016?
Unfortunately I have hung the cross bike up now until September, but I am excited to replace it with my new Focus Raven 27.5 mountain bike. I am racing for 100% me this year and as of yet I haven’t got many definite plans for 2016 as we are still tweaking the planner. I am still pretty new to cycling so this year I am just exploring everything. Therefore I will be racing a bit of road race in the UK and abroad as well as MTB. I am thinking about having an earlier off season this year, so I can do a full season of cross, as I have loved it so much this year!
How has having Tracy as a mentor helped you?
I think every rider needs a ‘Tracy’ in their life! She and James Richards have helped me out with everything, from sorting me out bikes, to desperately trying to help me learn to do jumps and skids. I am so lucky to have someone to talk to who has so much knowledge and who is such a genuinely nice person. Tracy and Liam Killeen have helped me out so much and I am so grateful to both of them!
Evie’s athlete Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/eviesathletepage/