Evie Richards and Ben Tulett made British cyclo-cross history as they both claimed gold medals at the 2018 UCI World Cyclo-Cross Championships in Valkenburg – the first time British riders have topped the podium in two different races at the ‘cross worlds.
Tulett got the ball rolling in the junior men’s race – becoming Britain’s second consecutive world champion in the age group after Tom Pidcock’s 2017 win.
And Richards made it two from two later in the day with a storming ride in the women’s under-23 race – overcoming a late gear issue to win back the rainbow jersey she first won in 2016.
Richards’ victory makes her Britain’s first ever multiple world ‘cross champion, but she was keen to highlight the work of those around her despite her individual record.
“Now that I've got my breath back I'm so happy," she said, after requiring a trip to the medical tent before her podium appearance having collapsed after the race.
“I was so exhausted and the race took it all out of me. I felt so empty, my tummy was growling and I had nothing left in me.
“I think it's slowly sinking in, I can't believe it. I didn't sleep at all last night because I was thinking about the race so much.
“I can't believe I've got two titles. It feels so surreal. We've got such a strong team and it's amazing how good we are, we've got such a good support network and it's about everybody who works hard for us."
Richards’ victory caps a year in which she also claimed her first senior ‘cross title - and, as we discussed with the 20-year-old last week, her attention will now turn to the mountain bike and April’s Commonwealth Games.
Richards led from the start, building up a big lead over second-placed compatriot Harriet Harnden – an advantage that proved hugely important when a problem with her derailleur briefly looked like halting her progress.
Having spun away in a small gear, however, Richards was able to swap bikes in the pits before re-opening her advantage to 38 seconds – enough time to collect a Union Jack before getting her arms in the air.
Sixteen-year-old Harnden, meanwhile, finished fourth in her first world under-23 race.
Tulett’s victory was in stark contrast to Richards’ – the 16-year-old starting conservatively before powering away on foot on the second lap.
UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships 2018 - results
- Men's Elite: 1) Wout van Aert (BEL); 2) Michael Vanthourenhout (BEL); 3) Mathieu van der Poel (NED)
- Women's Elite: 1) Sanne Cant (BEL); 2) Katie Compton (USA); 3) Lucinda Brand (NED)
- Men's Under-23: 1) Eli Iserbyt (BEL); 2) Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED); 3) Yan Gras (FRA)
- Women's Under-23: 1) EVIE RICHARDS (GBR); 2) Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (NED); 3) Nadja Heigl (AUT)
- Men's Junior: 1) BEN TULETT (GBR); 2) Tomas Kopecky (CZE); 3) Ryan Kamp (NED)
After a ding-dong battle with Czech rider Tomas Kopecky, Tulett eventually pulled away on the final lap to claim victory – the fourth British win in the men’s junior race after Pidcock last year, Roger Hammond in 1992 and Stuart Marshall in 1986.
After two British wins in the opening two races, however, the rest of the Championships belonged to Belgium.
Sanne Cant claimed her second consecutive elite women’s victory after an epic battle on the muddy course with America’s Katie Compton; Nikki Brammeier finished 11th and Helen Wyman was 13th.
The following day saw Pidcock roll out as favourite in the under-23 men’s race after stepping up an age level in style with a success-packed winter campaign, but he struggled from the off and eventually finished 15th,with Belgium’s Eli Iserbyt taking gold.
Finally, Wout van Aert claimed his third consecutive win in the men’s elite race with a dominant performance – eventually finishing more than two minutes ahead of his nearest challengers.
Ian Field was Britain’s sole representative in the race, claiming 33rd place in what he described as one of the hardest world championship races he has ever competed in.