Brit Evie Richards has become the new mountain bike XCO world champion after a commanding display in Val di Sole, Italy.
Starting on the second row, she soon moved up through gaps to the front of the bunch in the first loop, entering the start of lap one in third place, then bringing back Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Switzerland's Jolanda Neff who had tried to break away.
Neff was soon back in the fold, but Ferrand-Prevot had thirty seconds on Richards, bringing her back during the second lap, putting the pressure on during the hilly and downhill sections.
The 24-year-old then broke away from Ferrand-Prevot on the third lap, building her lead until the finish line.
The Netherlands' Anne Terpstra took silver, while Switzerland's Sina Frei settled for third.
Richards' win makes her the first-ever British woman to take the MTB rainbow jersey in the XCO.
There were emotional scenes after she came across the finish line, Richards in disbelief as her victory began to sink in.
“I can't believe it,” Richards said afterwards. “I'm really shocked, I didn't have a lot of confidence in having a good race but the game plan was to have confidence. I boosted myself by saying that one day I will shine. It was obviously today…
“I never thought I would ever be good enough to win a race like this. The coronavirus made it difficult for me to stay positive. In the past few weeks I have trained very hard at home, which makes me very happy. If I'm very happy, then I ride well. Today shows that.”
2021 MTB World Championships XCO, Val di Sole
1. Evie Richards (GBr), in 1-23-52
2. Anne Terpstra (Ned), at 1-03
3. Sina Frei (Sui), at 1-08
4. Jolanda Neff (Sui), at same time
5. Maja Włoszczowska (Pol), at 1-47
6. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Fra), at 2-35
7. Rebecca McConnell (Aus), at 2-45
8. Anne Tauber (Ned), at 2-56
9. Malene Degn (Den), at 3-17
10. Alessandra Keller (Sui), at 3-20
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