Richards wins inaugural U23 women's cyclo-cross Worlds

The inaugural UCI Cyclo-cross World championships race in the Women’s Under 23 category has been won by Evie Richards (Great-Britain). At a rain-soaked course in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium on Saturday afternoon, Richards completed a nearly race-long solo effort. Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic) finished second at 35 seconds, ahead of Maud Kaptheijns (Netherlands)

Halfway through the opening lap, Richards blasted away from the fast starting Chiara Teocchi (Italy) with a small gear. “I wanted to see how long I would last away. It feels amazing. It is my first cyclo-cross race abroad. I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Richards said afterwards.

Richards welcomed the new race category at the world championships. “If the category didn’t exist I wouldn’t have raced. I wouldn’t have had the chance to race. The sport needs female riders. It needs this category for riders to move up to elite.”

The race was run off in terrible weather conditions, with rain falling hard on the rider’s backs. The tailwind at the start blew the riders off the asphalt into the field with Teocchi leading the way ahead of Ellen Noble (USA), Noskova, Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain), Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy), Sina Frei (Switzerland), Nadja Heigl (Austria) and Kaptheijns. Richards was in the middle of the pack.

“I started quite far back, I was in the third row. I didn’t know where I was,” Richards said. Pre-race favourite Femke van den Driessche (Belgium) didn’t feature in front and was never a factor during the World championships on home soil. The European champion missed her start and rode just outside the top 10 when she had a mechanical that forced her to run the long finishing straight on the former Formula 1 racing circuit in Zolder. Van den Driessche abandoned the race shortly afterwards.

During the first half of the opening lap, Teocchi opened up a gap on the rest of the field. Noble, Noskova and Gonzalez Blanco were the first chasers. Halfway through the opening lap Frei bridged up to the chasers with Arzuffi, Richards and Kaptheijns following swiftly.

Due to the continuing rain fall the twisting off-camber section was harder than ever before. Teocchi coped well with it but behind her riders were all over the place. Richards emerged first out of the chaos with Noskova, Frei and Heigl just behind her. On the following climb towards the observatory Richards quickly gapped the other riders.

When approaching the last set of obstacles, Richards had bridged up to Teocchi. Richards emerged first over the steep sandy run-up and managed to ride most of the remaining climb. The rest was set afoot and never saw a dynamic Richards again.

Richards had 18 seconds on Teocchi, Heigl, Frei and Noskova after the opening lap, with Kaptheijns was a little further back. Over the three following laps, Richards made no mistakes and kept using a small gear to tackle all obstacles. Behind her, Noskova and Kaptheijns rode away towards the remaining podium spots in the second lap. During the third lap Noskova dropped Kaptheijns while Frei kept the duo in sight but never managed to close the gap.

Heigl rode alone for most of the race and held on for fifth place. Noble won a fierce battle for sixth place from Arzuffi and Juliette Labous (France). Alice Barnes (Great-Britain) was the second British rider in the top 10 which was closed out by Jessica Lambracht (Germany).

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Evie Richards (Great Britain)0:41:34
2Nikola Noskova (Czech Republic)0:00:35
3Maud Kaptheijns (Netherlands)0:00:47
4Sina Frei (Switzerland)0:00:53
5Nadja Heigl (Austria)0:01:30
6Ellen Noble (United States Of America)0:01:42
7Alice Maria Arzuffi (Italy)0:01:47
8Juliette Labous (France)0:01:50
9Alice Barnes (Great Britain)0:02:01
10Jessica Lambracht (Germany)0:02:22
11Laura Verdonschot (Belgium)0:02:43
12Hannah Payton (Great Britain)0:02:46
13Chiara Teocchi (Italy)0:02:53
14Lizzy Witlox (Netherlands)0:03:13
15Ffion James (Great Britain)0:03:18
16Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spain)0:03:38
17Fleur Nagengast (Netherlands)0:04:05
18Sara Casasola (Italy)0:04:06
19Sofia Gomez Villafane (Argentina)0:04:16
20Evita Muzic (France)0:04:27
21Kiyoka Sakaguchi (Japan)Row 20 - Cell 2
22Alba Teruel Ribes (Spain)0:04:28
23Maelle Grossetete (France)Row 22 - Cell 2
24Esmee Oosterman (Netherlands)0:04:49
25Bethany Crumpton (Great Britain)Row 24 - Cell 2
26Denisa Lukesova (Czech Republic)0:05:20
27Hannah Arensman (United States Of America)0:05:54
28Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado (Netherlands)0:06:12
29Allison Arensman (United States Of America)0:06:16
30Shana Maes (Belgium)0:06:36
31Caroline Bohe (Denmark)0:06:48
32Emma Swartz (United States Of America)0:06:49
33Ruby West (Canada)0:07:05
34Francesca Baroni (Italy)0:07:08
35Laurel Rathbun (United States Of America)0:07:09
36Joyce Heyns (Belgium)0:07:27
37Tiril Mohr (Norway)0:07:38
38Edie Antonia Rees (Luxembourg)0:07:43
39Rita Malinkiewicz (Poland)0:08:22
40Denisa Minarikova-Svecova (Czech Republic)0:08:28
41Maggie Coles-Lyster (Canada)0:09:41
42Stacey Riedel (Australia)0:11:11

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