The successful, record-breaking Scottish cyclist Rab Wardell has passed away in his sleep, aged 37.
Wardell's partner, Olympian Katie Archibald, said she tried desperately to save him. She made an emotional statement in a social media post on Wednesday morning.
Just two days earlier, Wardell had won the Scottish MTB XC Championship in Dumfries and Galloway, adding to his junior and U23 titles. The race win on Sunday was described as a "show of incredible resilience" by British Cycling after Wardell managed to catch the leaders and win the race - despite having had three punctures.
This year was a comeback to racing for the former Commonwealth Games cyclist, after a 14-year break during which he focused on his business, Wardell Cycle Coaching.
Wardell was a multidisciplinary talent - although a mountain biker at heart - who travelled the world riding bikes. In 2020, he set the Fastest Known Time on Scotland’s 96-mile long West Highland Way. His sense of adventure took him as far afield as South Africa where he raced the 2014 Absa Cape Epic together with Ben Roff for the Paarl Media Orange Monkey Pro team (now OMX Pro Bike Team).
The sudden loss of such a talented cyclist has sparked a flurry of tributes. Wardell is remembered by many for his cheerful and humble manner, and for his resilience to keep going despite the ups and downs.
Our team member Matt Page said the following:
“Rab was a rider who I looked up to, despite me being a year older. We raced several seasons together in elite XC races, but the closest I'd ever get to him in a race was lining up on the grid. When the starter sounded, he'd be gone!
Incredibly talented, both physically but also technically and a rider who did best on the toughest courses.
He was funny and witty, always smiling and a rider that the whole mountain biking community will deeply miss.”