Richards storms to history with second cyclo-cross world title

Richards storms to history with second cyclo-cross world title

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Evie Richards and Ben Tulett ensured Britain's impressive UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships history emphatically continued after both scooped gold on the opening day in Valkenburg.

Richards' victory allowed history to be made on a mud-heavy course, becoming the female first rider to win the Under-23 crown twice having blitzed to victory in 2016.

She also secured bronze last year to make the most of her status as favourite, putting everything into a race which she led almost from the start.

But that wasn't the only British success in the Netherlands as Tulett won the junior crown, following up Tom Pidcock's victory 12 months ago.

Richards makes history with second title

Never before had a rider won the women's Under-23 cyclo-cross world title twice – but Richards revels in rewriting the record book.

Champion two years ago and bronze medallist 12 months on, expectation was firmly on the 20-year-old’s shoulders and she duly delivered, leading from start to finish in treacherous conditions.

Leading after the first lap and joined by teammate Harriet Harnden, Richards had looked set for a clean run only for a mechanical failure to halt her charge in the closing stages.

That saw her lead cut down by seven seconds, still half a minute clear of her closest challengers, a chance to revel in an historic moment that came her way in phenomenal style.

The energy took its toll as Richards became unstable on her feet after the finish, though that didn't stop her smiling from the top of the podium.

"Now that I've got my breath back I'm so happy," she said. "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."

She was not the only Brit to celebrate as 16-year-old Harnden put in a wonderful ride to finish fourth on her World Championship debut.

Holding her own with Richards well into the latter stages, a place on the podium was not to come her way but, for a rider who was not expecting to even be in the Netherlands, this is a performance which she’ll remember for a long time.

There was also a strong performance from Anna Kay, enjoying a quick start before taking her place in 24th come the conclusion.

Tulett keeps Britain’s gold record going

Tulett ensured a little bit of family bragging rights came his way after storming to the junior title.

Last year saw brother Dan take silver in the same race, behind Tom Pidcock, as the British team completed a sweep of the podium.

But Tulett went one better than his brother to stand atop the podium, not relinquishing a lead he had held since the second lap.

Indeed his gap between the field extended as the race went on, though he had Tomas Kopecky for company heading into the closing stages.

Yet some superb tactics saw the Brit recapture his energy, unleashing it perfectly in the fourth and final lap to eventually win by 22 seconds.

The win was made all the more special as Tulett dedicated it to Charlie Craig, a promising 15-year-old who died before last year's Championships.

“I just knew I had to go full gas, I just kept going and kept going and when I saw Kopecky come back, I sat up and then went again.

“Ride for Charlie - that's what did it. It was amazing, so emotional - the best day of my life so far.

“Tomorrow I can watch Dan ride and give him a massive for shout."

British trio finishing strongly in elite race

Meanwhile there were no podium places but no shortage of strong displays in the women's elite race.

That included Nikki Brammeier, finishing highest out of the three British riders - who had the worst of the conditions following the churning of the mud underfoot.

She finished 11th having spent large parts of the race in the top 10, sitting two places ahead of Helen Wyman when they crossed the line.

Belgium's Sanne Cant took the win after a pulsating finish, with Bethany Crumpton in 23rd to complete a strong first day for the British team.

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UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships