THE NIGHT BEFORE: EVIE RICHARDS
With the 2022 UCI XCO World Cup Series kicking off this weekend in Petropolis, Brazil, we caught up with reigning World Champion Evie Richards, to chat off season, wearing the rainbow jersey, her aspirations for the year ahead, and much more. Take a moment to hear her thoughts as you wait for the action to kick off this weekend!
Crankbrothers: Evie, we’re finally back at the world cups; how does it feel to be lining up again to begin the 2022 world cup season?
Evie Richards: I'm super excited to be lining up this year, it feels like its been a long time since I've been racing, and I was definitely sad at the end of last year's World Cup when the season finished, so I'm excited to be back with the team and racing all the girls again.
CB: Finishing last season on a high, did you get some time to relax and enjoy the success of last season?
ER: After the last race, I got a little bit sick. I think I was just overly tired from the whole season. I think probably emotionally and physically. Then I had a week in Cornwall, two weeks in Croatia, and had the best time off ever. And then I kind of approached the off-season different. I went to Grand Canaria again for a chill training camp with some of the girls I’m friends with and then did two camps in Spain as well, so I had a lot of travels in my off-season and made sure I saw the sun a lot, so it was a very good off-season.
CB: Once you got back into training how did your off season go?
ER: It was completely different! This off-season I didn’t race any cross. I was planning on racing over Christmas, but I got sick, so I was a bit unlucky because I got sick after the final World Cup, then I got sick over Christmas as well, which was just very unfortunate but apart from that, I had a really good off-season. I built some really good base miles abroad, which I’ve never done before. I did three training camps which were super good. I worked hard with Katy Curd on technical stuff and did a lot of sessions with my coaches. So I felt like, as a whole it went well I think, but its hard to know until racing actually starts.
CB: Did you do anything different this off-season compared to past years?
ER: Yeah, definitely, I always race cross, it's always been something I’ve raced every year, so this was the first year not racing. I just replaced those cross races with some trips abroad to get some base miles and that was really good because it was like the first winter I haven't been on the turbo, so it was just nice to train, train in the UK rain but also then go and get some sunshine just to break it up a little bit.
CB: You've done some off-season races to get ready, haven't you? How did they go?
ER: They’ve gone... A bit average so far, I’ve struggled with a bad back at the start of this year, but I raced the Mediterranean epic, which was really good. I did four days of back-to-back racing, and I got second, so I was super happy with that, and then obviously I won in Banyoles as well, but then I did Riveria and Shelba, and I had to pull out because of a bad back in both and I struggled with a bad back in the most recent one I got third in, so it was kinda a mix. But like, I’ve had good results in the ones I’ve finished, so it shows my trainings done well, but I just need to solve the problem of fixing my back, and then hopefully, I’ll be good for the rest of the season.
CB: You're coming into the season as World Champion. Do you feel any added pressure, or do you not really think about it?
ER: Yeah, I definitely feel like from when I got the jersey, I've found pressure, and it's been quite a big thing over the winter we've worked on. I think last year I got into a really good stage of where I was really happy on and off the bike and still racing really well. But I definitely felt like over the winter, I dropped into old patterns of overtraining a lot and maybe not seeing my friends as much as I normally would because I felt the pressure of training so hard to deliver for the world champs jersey. So its been good to see those paths that I've dropped back into and learn how to like, get back into enjoying riding and how to reinforce those good qualities that helped me win my worlds jersey. So yeah definitely felt pressure, but it's just been like learning how to deal with it.
CB: You’ve been in Brazil a week or so now, how are you enjoying it?
ER: We are having a great time, we’re staying in a super cool house, in the middle of nowhere, and it’s so beautiful. I’ve never been anywhere so beautiful like Brazil before, so it’s been really cool to experience new tracks and climate. It’s always nice to be back with the team.
CB: What are you hopes and goals for this coming weekend?
ER: This weekend it’s definitely just about like, a good feeling... it sounds silly because I’m a World Champion, so obviously I want to do well, but I think with how my back has felt in the other races, I’d really like a race where I can just enjoy it and just get a good feeling in my legs and in my body going forward. It’s early on in the season, so I’d just like to feel good on the bike and really enjoy that first race in the rainbow stripes.
CB: And finally, what are your hopes for the rest of the year?
ER: I think for the start of the season, I'm not really putting too much pressure on myself, as I said I just want to feel good on the bike but definitely, as the season goes on, World Champs is my goal this year. I'd really like to target that race and try and defend the jersey, so I think to try and replicate as much as I can from last year to learn from the early on races and learn from my mistakes and get better as the year progresses into World Champs.
Head to Evie's Instagram page to wish her luck for the season ahead.