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It was a fitting soundtrack to the end of her season.
Although Evie Richards couldn’t hear the time gaps being announced due to the rowdy roaring of the crowds at the Snowshoe XCO World Cup race on Sunday, the 24-year-old world champion rode her way through the noise to an impressive first-place finish.
“It was really hard to hear the splits because the crowd was so bad, no, good, but so noisy,” Richards said after the race. “I was just trying to do consistent laps but also save some ’til the end. I was riding my race but knowing that if someone came up to me, I still had a bit more room to push.”
Consistency, patience, and ‘a bit more room to push’ have emerged as the hallmarks of Richards’ late successes in the 2021 season. In Snowshoe, before she dominated the XCO race on Sunday, the world champ also won the short track race by taking a bold, outside line on the last climb of the final lap, powering past Olympians Jenny Rissveds and Jolanda Neff.
For those who haven’t been following Richards, it may seem like the young Brit has just burst onto the scene. However, her recent podium-heavy end to the season carries years of experience racing with a particular focus on the Tokyo Olympics.
From the fourth World Cup of the year in Les Gets all the way through Snowshoe this past weekend, Richards’ palmares represented a near-perfect progression to what was meant to be winning Olympic gold — but has already proved far more longstanding.
In early July, the Brit was third on the podium at the Les Gets XCO race, the final World Cup before the Olympic Games. In Tokyo, Richards finished seventh. While disappointed with the result in the race she had been dreaming of for over a decade, Richards’ left Japan riding on a silver lining.
“I had good form going into the Olympics, which is what I was aiming for but just didn’t deliver the race,” Richards said recently in Snowshoe. “I suppose just from good coaching I managed to carry on.”
Nearly a month after the Olympics, Richards’ carried on to become the first British cross-country mountain bike world champion. Three weeks later, rainbow curse be damned, she won her first elite World Cup race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Last weekend’s wins at Snowshoe were the icing on Richards’ rainbow-striped cake. They bumped her into second position in the overall World Cup rankings, behind Loana Lecomte who dominated the early season of racing. Both women roared into victories in the elite ranks this year after hinting at what was to come during 2020’s truncated season.
“She inspired me so much at the start of the year,” Richards said of the Frenchwoman. “She was just insane. It will be really cool to have a battle with her next year. We have amazing girls and amazing girls coming up. It’s always fast racing in the women’s now, it’s such exciting racing.”
It’s a good thing Richards was able to stay calm despite the din of the crowds in Snowshoe; the cheering for the world champ is only getting louder.