Evie Richards' World Championship ride highlighted an unforgettable trip to Val di Sole
World Championships week in Val di Sole was a whirlwind of dust and high-octane competition. And when that dust settled, Trek Race Shop athletes emerged with sore muscles, bruises and a lot of hardware.
The results were a testament to the hard work that Trek’s mountain biking teams have been putting in behind the scenes to become the best in the world. Here are the highlights and sights from one of the most densely packed weeks of take-your-breath-away moments in recent memory, starting with the ride of a lifetime from a 24-year-old powerhouse.
The week belonged to Evie Richards
Richards started the week with a silver medal in the women’s short track event on Wednesday. The result was somewhat bittersweet: Richards was ecstatic to receive the hardware, but was left wondering “what if?” She worked hard to stay at the front of the race, and didn’t quite have the legs to match Sina Frei in a sprint for the gold.
On Saturday, Richards showed, in no uncertain terms, that she was the strongest rider in Val di Sole. In the Olympic distance race, she extended her gap on the field until the very end after taking the lead during the third lap. She won the world championship by more than a minute.
The performance shocked even her. Before the race, Richards admitted that she wasn’t expecting to do as well as she had in short track. That lack of expectation was evidently freeing. She went on to put on a clinical display of power and technically on a loose, dusty course that demanded everything in her toolset.
Of course, the win wasn’t entirely out of the blue. Richards has been a strong performer all season, with a bronze medal in Les Gets and seventh place in the Tokyo Olympics. But on Saturday, she proved that on her best day, no one can match her pedal stroke for pedal stroke. And at just 24 years old, Richards has plenty more career highlights to come.
Jolanda Neff follows up Olympic gold with fourth place
Neff punctuated her incredible race in Tokyo by nearly snatching a World Championships medal one month later. Once again, Sina Frei played spoiler to a Trek Factory Racing rider, just edging out her Swiss countrymate in a sprint for the line on Saturday. But Neff was in great spirits after another strong week in which she took fifth in short track and fourth in XCO.
After the race, she pointed out a common element across the success that she and Richards have had.
“So so stoked and happy for you Evie, congrats! Now if you ever wondered what bike is the fastest … both Evie and I will tell you it’s the Trek Supercaliber!”
Neff certainly did her beautiful custom gold frame proud.
It’s definitely been a good month (a good year, really) for Trek’s “Is it a hardtail, is it full suspension?” XC racer.
Mona Mitterwallner won the under-23 world championship to continue what has been a near perfect season. At just 19 years old, Mitterwallner has also won four under-23 World Cup races this year while riding for Trek-Vaude, along with a European championship. On Saturday, she crossed the finish line with a 2:04 margin over fellow Austrian rider Laura Stigger, making an emphatic statement that she will be a force in XC for years to come.
Riley Amos, another 19-year-old youngster, powered the USA relay team to a silver medal on Wednesday, sprinting as the anchor to beat out Germany by one second. In the process, he secured the fastest lap of the day while overcoming a 14-second deficit. Amos won a U23 men’s World Cup race in Leogang earlier this year while representing TFR and the Bear Devo National Team. Expect to see much more of him at the world level.
Jackson Goldstone wins junior DH world championship!
Goldstone is one of the most exciting young gravity riders in the world. On Sunday, the 17-year-old secured a junior downhill world championship over 2021 junior European champion Jordan Williams.
Goldstone can be seen wherever extreme speed and stoke are needed. He has been having an incredible downhill season, with two junior World Cup wins so far. He’ll be gunning for the gold in Lenzerheide once again this upcoming weekend.
“Struggling to write this post because I honestly have no words,” Goldstone wrote on Instagram after the race. “My first world champs couldn’t have gone better and I’m so stoked to share the podium with the same crew since Les Gets!”
Bad luck but good spirits for TFR DH
Loris Vergier, Charlie Harrison and 2020 World Champion Reece Wilson were on top of their game in Val di Sole. Unfortunately, misfortune and a few bobbles kept them from achieving their goals.
Both Harrison and Wilson were on their way to perhaps the fastest runs of the day before untimely punctures struck. Wilson’s was particularly painful, seemingly occurring on the landing of the last jump on the steep and wickedly fast course in Val di Sole. Wilson still managed to roll in at 15th, while Harrison took 46th despite posting the 11th fastest time on the day through the third checkpoint.
Vergier finished fourth, just over a half second out of a medal, and had the fastest time of any rider through the second checkpoint on the course. He couldn’t quite keep his speed up through the second half of his run, though that’s a testament to the intensity of the competition as well.
The level of downhill racing is climbing higher and higher across the men’s field. The squad’s sore joints and muscles are proof enough. Vergier, Harrison and Wilson all looked confident and poised during their runs. Kade Edwards will join them in Lenzerheide, where all four could have career results if it’s their day.