Mountain biker Rab Wardell dies two days after winning Scottish title

Wardell won elite men’s title at the Scottish MTB XC Championships in Dumfries and Galloway last weekend

Rab Wardell
(Image credit: Scottish Cycling)

Mountain biker Rab Wardell has died in his sleep aged 37, just two days after taking victory at the Scottish championship. 

Last weekend Wardell won the elite men’s title at the Scottish MTB XC Championships in Dumfries and Galloway. The cyclist then appeared on BBC Scotland’s The Nine programme on Monday evening to talk through his achievement, mentioning that he had overcome three punctures to take the honours. 

Wardell’s partner and double Olympic track cycling champion Katie Archibald was at home with the 37-year-old when he died. According to the Daily Telegraph (opens in new tab) Wardell is believed to have suffered an apparent cardiac arrest. 

On Wednesday morning, Archibald posted a short statement on social media (opens in new tab) confirming the news. 

“I think you’ve heard that Rab died yesterday morning,” wrote Archibald, “I still don't understand what's happened; if this is real; why he'd be taken now - so healthy and happy. He went into cardiac arrest while we were lying in bed. I tried and tried, and the paramedics arrived within minutes, but his heart stopped and they couldn't bring him back. Mine stopped with it. 

“I love him so much and need him here with me. I need him here so badly, but he's gone. I can't describe this pain. Thank you to those making tributes. I can't bear to talk about him in the past tense to say anything myself. You mean everything to me, Rab. I love you.”

Glasgow-based Wardell had been racing mountain bikes since his teenage years, although only turned professional earlier this year. 

In 2020 the hugely popular rider completed the West Highland Way (opens in new tab) in a new record time, Wardell completed the 96 mile course in 9-14-32. His win last weekend at Kirroughtree Forest (opens in new tab) was described by Scottish Cycling as a “show of incredible resilience”. 

Reacting to the news of his passing, Scottish Cycling (opens in new tab) shared a short message which said: “We are devastated to confirm the news that international mountain biker & former employee, Rab Wardell, has passed away today.

“We have very little information at this stage, but we send our love & support to his family, friends & all those in our community who knew him. We ask that you respect Rab’s family’s privacy at this incredibly sad time.”

British Cycling also issued a statement (opens in new tab) on Wardell to say he will be “sorely missed”, it read: 

“Everybody at British Cycling is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Rab Wardell.

Rab was a brilliant rider, friend and ambassador for our sport, and will be sorely missed by so many. Our thoughts are with his family and many friends at this incredibly difficult time.”

Former Olympic cyclist and Tour de France yellow jersey wearer David Millar said: “So very sad to learn of Rab Wardell leaving us. Properly hard to comprehend.”

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