Rab Wardell: Cyclist dies two days after winning Scottish championship

Scottish mountain biker Rab Wardell has died in his sleep just two days after taking victory at the national championships.

Wardell, 37, won the men’s elite race at the Scottish MTB XC Championships at Kirroughtree Forest in Dumfries and Galloway at the weekend.

The veteran cross country racer only turned professional earlier this year after a long amateur career that included a participation at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

“We are devastated to confirm the news that international mountain biker & former employee, Rab Wardell, has passed away today,” a statement from Scottish Cycling said, confirming Wardell’s passing.

“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.”

Wardell had overcome three punctures to take men’s elite victory in Scotland, adding the senior crown to junior and Under-23 national titles.

Appearing on BBC Scotland’s The Nine to discuss his win, Wardell joked that he was “a little too well practiced in managing punctures”, enabling him to come back and claim a resilient victory.

“To be honest, it was a bit of a disaster, but I just have to keep on trucking and keep racing,” Wardell explained.

“I guess I still felt confident that I’d be able to catch the leaders and win so I just gave it my best shot - what more can you do?”

Former road racer and fellow Scot David Millar paid tribute to Wardell, who in 2020 set a new record time for completing the 96-mile West Highland Way.

“So very sad to learn of Rab Wardell leaving us,” Millar tweeted. “Properly hard to comprehend.”