EVIE RICHARDS

Cycling Weekly - - CW AWARDS -

Un­like most of the riders in this list, Evie Richards has had a quiet sum­mer on the road. That’s not to say she hasn’t been tear­ing up the cross-coun­try moun­tain bike scene — in­clud­ing sil­ver in the Com­mon­wealth Games for Eng­land — but that’s an­other story. We only have to look at the way the 21-year-old from Malvern has book­ended her year in cy­clocross, and espe­cially the start, to see she has had an awe­some 2018.

Hav­ing se­cured a ca­reer first World Cup win on the tough course at Na­mur, Bel­gium in mid-de­cem­ber, Richards was quickly back to win­ning ways a month later, tak­ing the un­der-23 Na­tional cy­clocross ti­tle for a third year run­ning. She looked strong­est from the start, open­ing up an im­pres­sive early lead in the race, held at Het­ton Lyons Coun­try Park near Sun­der­land, and hold­ing it to the fin­ish to win for a third year in a row.

A fort­night later Richards reg­is­tered her sec­ond ever World Cup podium

— and her sec­ond in two months af­ter Na­mur — this time at the GP Adri van der Poel at Hooger­heide in the Nether­lands. With no women’s un­der-23 cat­e­gory in the World Cup se­ries, Richards was rid­ing with the elites — just as she was at Na­mur — mak­ing her re­sults all the more im­pres­sive.

She saved her best re­sult of 2018 for the fol­low­ing week­end, though, when she trav­elled to Valken­berg, again in the Nether­lands, for the cy­clo-cross World Cham­pi­onships. Rid­ing in the un­der-23 cat­e­gory, she strug­gled in the mud ini­tially, but it wasn’t long be­fore she had de­vel­oped her cus­tom­ary solo lead and ul­ti­mately built such a com­fort­able cush­ion that even a gear prob­lem go­ing into the fi­nal lap never saw her in any dan­ger of be­ing caught. With 38 sec­onds to spare, she claimed back the ti­tle she’d first won in 2016, go­ing two bet­ter than last year’s bronze in Lux­em­bourg.

A fine sum­mer on fat tyres has now given way again to cy­clo-cross, and Richards has al­ready scored a World Cup podium at Jin­gle Cross, which fol­lowed a fourth place the week be­fore at Water­loo, both in the USA. Her re­sults since then have been ten­ta­tive, al­though they do in­clude a top-10 at Kok­si­jde in late Novem­ber and a league win, and there’s no rea­son to sup­pose the post-christmas cli­max to the season won’t see Richards in im­pe­ri­ous form yet again.

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