CX Worlds: Richards takes second under-23 title in three years

Briton Evie Richards dominantly took home the under-23 women's world cyclocross championship on Saturday in Valkenburg, the Netherlands.

Wearing bib number 13, Briton Evie Richards overcame a crash and a mechanical to win the under-23 women’s UCI World Cyclocross Championship in Valkenburg, the Netherlands on Saturday. Dutchwoman Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado took home silver with Nadja Heigl (Austria) capturing Bronze.

Richards fought back from a crash in the opening minutes of the race to move comfortably into the lead by the end of lap one. The race seemed to be hers to lose, as she put on a demonstration of excellent bike handling skills. However, disaster struck at the end of the second lap with one lap to go.

The under-23 women only contested three laps due to the race distance being 40 minutes and lap times around the 12-minute mark.

Richards rear derailleur stopped working and she was stuck in her lightest gear in the rear cog. She spun an extremely high cadence for nearly half a lap before she reached the pit. However, due to the extremely muddy nature of the course, she lost very little time off of her lead.

Richards crossed the line with a huge smile on her face, but moments after dismounting her bike she fainted. Medical personnel were quick to tend to her and carried her into the podium preparation tent. After a few tense minutes, Richards was seen preparing for the podium ceremony.

Having won the under-23 women’s world cyclocross championship in 2016, Richards is now a two-time champion in the category. She will only turn 21 in March, meaning she still has another year of under-23 eligibility. Though, since she won an elite world cup this year at Namur, she may choose to compete in the elite race at the 2019 world cyclocross championships in Bogense, Denmark. It remains to be seen what she does.

Top 10

  • 1. Evie Richards, (Great Britain), in 37:52
  • 2. Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado, (Netherlands), at +00:38
  • 3. Nadja Heigl, (Austria), at +01:04
  • 4. Harriet Harnden, (Great Britian), at +01:24
  • 5. Fleur Nagengast, (Netherlands), at +01:40
  • 6. Sara Casasola, (Italy), at +01:40
  • 7. Emma White, (United States of America), at +01:59
  • 8. Marion Norbert-Riberolle, (France), at +02:03
  • 9. Adéla Šafárová, (Czech Republic), at +02:03
  • 10. Laura Verdonshot, (Belgium), at +02:41

When the under-23 women lined-up for their championship race in Valkenburg on Saturday, the ruts had grown deeper thanks to the junior men. Bike handling skills were going to be the key to taking home rainbow bands. The heavy pre-race favorite, Richards, races cross-country mountain biking, meaning she was even more of a danger to run away with the race.

American Emma White took the holeshot, as the women dropped into the woods. White lost the lead to del Carmen Alvarado, as Richards sat third wheel. Richards’ bike slid out from under her in the early going, causing her to lose a few places.

Once recovered from her crash, Richards chased down White and del Carmen Alvarado and soon found herself alone in the lead. It would be a position she would not relinquish.

As the riders began to settle into the race, del Carmen Alvarado slid backward. It seemed she had started the race much too hard. Barely half a lap into the race and it had already become one of attrition.

Richards’ countrywoman Harriet Harnden powered her way to the front and passed White to take over the second position. Harnden crossed the finish line already 21 seconds down on Richards.

It would be just a three-lap race for the under-23 women, as Richards’ opening lap time was 12:05. The other two laps would be even slower, which put the race time near the 40-minute mark. The race would most likely have been much too long if four laps had been completed instead of three.

White ended lap one in third place, 30 seconds behind Richards.

Richards, who competes on the mountain bike for Trek Factory Racing, showed off her skills, as she surfed through the deep ruts. She leaned so far back on the harrowing descents that it appeared she may fall off onto her rear tire.

Austrian Heigel kept on grinding through the muck and moved past White and Harnden into second place on the penultimate lap. Also, del Carmen Alvarado was coming back. She had found her rhythm through the mud and was now re-passing riders. While del Carmen Alvarado had seemingly recovered from her hard first lap effort, the race was taking its toll on Harnden. The Briton was beginning to fade out of podium contention.

While the rainbow bands looked set to be going onto the shoulders of Richards for the second time, as the final lap neared, incredibly she had a mechanical. She could no longer shift her rear derailleur and was stuck in the lightest gear in the cog.

Richards spun valiantly to the pit and barely lost any time off her lead. Her expert bike handling skills allowed her to gain back time on the descents that she had lost on the climbs.

Heigel and del Carmen Alvarado were wheel-to-wheel entering the final lap, battling for the silver medal. They crossed the line together 37 seconds behind Richards.

Once Richards got the pits, the tension surrounding who would wear the rainbow bands subsided. The Briton comfortably navigated through the final lap and captured her second under-23 world cyclocross championship.

Richards had dug so deep that she fainted after she crossed the line. It would be only for a few moments and She was well enough to attend the podium ceremony.

Del Carmen was able to solidify the silver medal when she made a daring inside pass on Heigel. The Dutchwoman passed Heigel on an incredibly rutted off-camber downhill section.

The top American on the day was White, who finished in seventh.

Full results

  • 1. Evie Richards, (GBR), 37:52
  • 2. Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado, (NED), 38:30
  • 3. Nadja Heigl, (AUT), 38:56
  • 4. Harriet Harnden, (GBR), 39:16
  • 5. Fleur Nagengast, (NED), 39:32
  • 6. Sara Casasola, (ITA), 39:32
  • 7. Emma White, (USA), 39:51
  • 8. Marion Norbert Riberolle, (FRA), 39:55
  • 9. Adéla ŠafÁŘovÁ, (CZE), 39:55
  • 10. Laura Verdonschot, (BEL), 40:33
  • 11. Francesca Baroni, (ITA), 40:43
  • 12. Manon Bakker, (NED), 40:54
  • 13. Silvia Persico, (ITA), 41:01
  • 14. Clara Honsinger, (USA), 41:07
  • 15. Rebecca Gariboldi, (ITA), 41:25
  • 16. Malene Degn, (DEN), 41:44
  • 17. Magdalena MiŠoŇovÁ, (CZE), 42:21
  • 18. Inge Van Der Heijden, (NED), 42:37
  • 19. Chiara Teocchi, (ITA), 42:51
  • 20. Emma Swartz, (USA), 43:04
  • 21. Ruby West, (CAN), 43:23
  • 22. Magdeleine Vallieres Mill, (CAN), 43:31
  • 23. Lara Gillespie, (IRL), 43:50
  • 24. Anna Kay, (GBR), 43:53
  • 25. Katie Clouse, (USA), 44:00
  • 26. Axelle Bellaert, (BEL), 44:04
  • 27. Noemi RÜegg, (SUI), 44:14
  • 28. Jade Wiel, (FRA), 44:17
  • 29. Yara Kastelijn, (NED), 44:23
  • 30. Hannah Arensman, (USA), 44:23
  • 31. Lara KrÄhemann, (SUI), 44:50
  • 32. Marthe Truyen, (BEL), 45:09
  • 33. Elizabeth UngermanovÁ, (CZE), 45:20
  • 34. Irene Trabazo Bragado, (ESP), 45:42
  • 35. Tereza VanÍČkovÁ, (CZE), 45:52
  • 36. Luisa Ibarrola Albizua, (ESP), 45:58
  • 37. Suzanne Verhoeven, (BEL), 46:51
  • 38. Agnieszka Szpocinska, (POL), 47:22
  • 39. Laurel Rathbun, (USA), 51:00
  • 40. Siobhan Kelly, (CAN), 51:36