Evie Richards imposed her will and followed a World Championship with a first World Cup win!
Even Evie Richards can’t believe her run of form.
Just one week after putting together the ride of a lifetime Val di Sole, and two days after sharing a short track podium with teammate Jolanda Neff, Richards scored her first ever elite World Cup victory in Lenzerheide. And just like those two races, Richards won by being aggressive and pushing herself in ways she never had before.
“Oh my god, I just can’t believe it,” Richards said after the race about the result. “I just feel like I’ve done well these last races and I don’t know how, it’s just fallen into place at the end of the season. I’m so shocked.”
Richards was among the lead group throughout the race. By the start of the second-to-last lap, the fifth of six, that group consisted of Richards, Loana Lecomte, Sina Frei, Rebecca McConnell and Jenny Rissveds. That’s when Richards opened up on a climb and took a lead that she would never relinquish.
“I didn’t feel strong on that first lap, it went too fast, but luckily that front group backed off and it gave me enough time to recover and I was able to attack,” Richards said. “It was such a weird race. It was just like holding back the whole race, no one wanted to commit, and I have to be very patient when it’s like that.”
Richards’ fifth lap was the fastest that any rider posted during the race. And when the lap ended, she had a tenuous, but significant, solo lead of six seconds over McConnell.
Going into the last lap, that lead group was shattered, and Richards just needed to hold on. McConnell gave a spirited chase, but Richards grinded away from her, crossing the line 19 seconds ahead of silver, and 58 seconds ahead of Rissveds in third.
When the race was over, Richards collapsed to the ground, exhausted and stunned. She hadn’t anticipated another huge result so soon after winning the rainbow jersey.
“I just thought I’d have a wobble after this, because I think there’s a load of pressure when you have the jersey,” Richards said. “I really didn’t think it would come that quickly, but my coaches said I have good form and to be confident in myself and be patient. And I think I did that, so I’m just shocked as always.”
Richards, just 24, has fully come into her own in 2021. She has gradually improved on the World Cup stage: She took her first ever Olympic-distance podium in May, and her first ever Olympic-distance medal in July. She seemed shocked by her own success after the race, but credited her coaches for giving her direction.
“Every race we set a different plan, which is something new,” Richards said. “And even if it’s not to win, it’s so I learn. So today was a different plan, and I didn’t think I would win because it’s something I haven’t tried before. So I’m very shocked that I won today.”
Even if Richards can’t believe it, there’s no question she has become an established force. There’s just two more World Cup races left, both of them in Snowshoe beginning in less than 10 days. We can’t wait to see how she continues her World Championship encore.