Evie Richards was not even born when Roger Hammond won the world junior cyclo-cross title in 1992, but in 2016 – in the inaugural women’s under-23 race at the ‘cross worlds – the Malvern-born ace became the first Brit since then to pull on the rainbow bands as a CX world champion.
Richards was a relative latecomer to cycling, taking up the sport initially as a means to work on her fitness as a county-level hockey player.
But her talent was such, that success soon followed – buoyed by British Cycling’s talent-spotters picking her up for a place on the Academy.
Richards made her mountain-bike World Championship debut in 2014 and followed up with a silver medal in the junior cross-country event a year later, before she added cyclo-cross success to her palmares – winning the under-23 world title in her first overseas ‘cross race.
After claiming bronze in the same event last year, 20-year-old Richards will now bid to reclaim her rainbow jersey. She arrives in Valkenburg for this weekend’s race (Saturday February 3) buoyed by her first senior success, when she led home a British one-two ahead of Nikki Brammeier at the Namur World Cup in December.
For the latest instalment of RCUK’s Next Big Thing Q&A series, we caught up with Richards to learn more about her rise to the top, and her ambitions for the future.