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Lenzerheide: Richards wins first World Cup as Lecomte secures overall title

 Evie Richards (Great Britain) starts the last lap
(Image credit: Rob Jones)

One week after winning the elite women's XCO world title, Evie Richards (Trek Factory) accomplished another milestone, her first World Cup win, in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

Rebecca McConnell (Primaflora Mondraker XSauce) finished second and 2016 Olympic champion Jenny Rissveds (Sweden) took third. 

France's Loana Lecomte (Massi), winner of the first four rounds of the World Cup this season, locked down the overall World Cup title with one race remaining, by finishing fourth.

Riders in Lenzerheide faced a circuit with long climbs and technical, rooty descents. This was a course with almost nowhere to rest. The women did five laps plus a start lap that replaced the opening dirt climb with a long asphalt climb.

Lecomte came into this race undefeated in World Cup competition this season. In fact, she had led every lap of every World Cup in 2021. She needed to finish seventh or better to mathematically win the overall title before the final round in Snowshoe, USA, in two weeks' time. However, she has been sick, missing the World Championships last week. 

Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Absolute Absalon BMC), second in the overall standings, has been struggling in this second half of the season and decided to end her season before Lenzerheide, opening up the rankings to riders behind her.

The race had a very fast start, with Lecomte moving into her usual spot at the front, joined by Rissveds. Richards and Olympic silver medalist Sina Frei (Specialized) bridged up to them, as did eventually McConnell and Anne Tauber (CST PostNL Bafang). By the second lap, it was clear that Lecomte was not her usual dominant self, and was getting dropped on the climbs. Rissveds and Frei were the most aggressive, with Richards just following. Tauber was the first to be dropped for good, and then Lecomte.

When Richards attacked on the main climb in the fourth lap, that was it for Rissveds as well, with McConnell moving into second ahead of Frei. This looked to be the final finishing order, until Frei suffered a rear flat in the final half lap, allowing both Rissveds and Lecomte to get by her before she could get a wheel change in the pits.

"I just can't believe it," said Richards. "It was such a weird race. Everyone was holding back the whole race and nobody wanted to commit. So I had to be very patient. I can't believe how everything has just fallen into place at the end of the season, I'm shocked. 

"There's loads of pressure when you have the [rainbow] jersey, so I really didn't think that it [her first World Cup win] would come this quick. But my coaches said I had good form and to be confident in myself and be patient ... I think I did that and Yes!

"Every race we set a different plan so I can learn, and this race was a different plan that we haven't tried before [waiting until late in the race]. I didn't feel strong on the first lap, it went too fast. But luckily the front group backed off and it gave me time to recover, and I was able to attack later."

Lecomte, still an Under-23 rider, had her poorest showing of the World Cup season, but was still able to take the overall title. 

"I'm very happy, because it was not my goal at the beginning of the season [to win the overall title]; I could not imagine that I could do it," she said. "For me, this was one of the hardest races of my little [short] career. The last two weeks have been very difficult for me mentally and physically."

Lecomte leaves Lenzerheide with 1550 points, an insurmountable lead of 485 points over Rissveds, who moves up to second ahead of the absent Ferrand Prevot. McConnel jumps one spot to fourth in the standings and Evie Richards from eighth to fifth. Both could overtake Ferrand Prevot in the final round.

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Evie Richards (GBr) 1:19:16
2Rebecca Mcconnell (Aus) 0:00:19
3Jenny Rissveds (Swe) 0:00:58
4Loana Lecomte (Fra) 0:01:12
5Sina Frei (Swi) 0:01:20
6Anne Terpstra (Ned) 0:01:21
7Alessandra Keller (Swi) 0:02:00
8Anne Tauber (Ned) 0:02:05
9Linda Indergand (Swi) 0:02:48
10Laura Stigger (Aut) 0:02:49
11Nicole Koller (Swi) 0:03:07
12Janika Lõiv (Est) 0:03:21
13Kate Courtney (USA) 0:03:31
14Isla Short (GBr) 0:03:36
15Ramona Forchini (Swi) 0:03:53
16Sophie Von Berswordt (Ned) 0:04:06
17Martina Berta (Ita) 0:04:27
18Nadine Rieder (Ger) 0:04:52
19Annie Last (GBr) 0:05:14
20Eva Lechner (Ita) 0:05:28
21Malene Degn (Den)
22Lea Davison (USA)
23Haley Batten (USA) 0:06:03
24Tanja Žakelj (Slo) 0:06:08
25Jolanda Neff (Swi) 0:06:09
26Mariske Strauss (RSA) 0:06:18
27Yana Belomoina (Ukr) 0:06:24
28Anna Spielmann (Aut) 0:06:37
29Julie Bresset (Fra) 0:06:42
30Jana Czeczinkarová (Cze) 0:06:47
31Githa Michiels (Bel) 0:06:49
32Sandra Walter (Can) 0:06:50
33Steffi Häberlin (Swi) 0:07:01
34Candice Lill (RSA) 0:07:19
35Hannah Finchamp (USA) 0:07:27
36Kelsey Urban (USA) 0:07:46
37Hélène Clauzel (Fra) 0:08:12
38Greta Seiwald (Ita) 0:08:28
39Jennifer Jackson (Can) 0:08:35
40Cindy Montambault (Can) 0:09:09
41Chiara Teocchi (Ita) 0:09:26
42Seraina Leugger (Swi) 0:09:47
43Elisabeth Brandau (Ger) 0:10:02
44Manon Wimmer (Fra) 0:10:21
45Emily Batty (Can) 0:10:28
46Paula Gorycka (Pol) 0:10:41
47Linn Gustafzzon (Swe) 0:10:54
48Theresia Schwenk (Ger) 0:11:08
49Elisabeth Osl (Aut) 0:11:23
50Haley Smith (Can) 0:11:36
51Andrea Waldis (Swi) 0:11:37
52Lia Schrievers (Ger) 0:12:05
53Laurie Arseneault (Can) 0:12:36
54Natalia Fischer Egusquiza (Spa)
55Charline Fragnière (Swi)
56Chrystelle Baumann (Swi)
57Kim Ames (Ger)
58Naama Noyman (Isr)
59Janina Wüst (Swi)
60Sara Öberg (Swe)
61Mackenzie Myatt (Can)
62Faranak Partoazar (IRI)
63Meritxell Figueras Garangou (Spa)
64Joana Monteiro (Por)
65Evelyn Muñoz Jaramillo (Chi)
DNFRonja Eibl (Ger)
DNFLucie Urruty (Fra)
DNFLena Gerault (Fra)
DNFCherie Redecker (RSA)
DNFBarbara Benkó (Hun)
DNSLotte Koopmans (Ned)
DNSPauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra)
DNSJitka Čábelická (Cze)
DNSNina Benz (Ger)

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