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.