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

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

He appeared on BBC Scotland’s The Nine on Monday evening where he talked about how he had overcome three punctures to win the race. 

Wardell, who lived in Glasgow, started racing mountain bikes when he was a teenager but was only able to turn professional this year. 

The former Commonwealth Games cyclist set a new record time for completing the West Highland Way in 2020. 

His win at Kirroughtree Forest on Sunday was described as a “show of incredible resilience” by British Cycling as Wardell managed to catch those leading the race early on to secure the win. 

Speaking about his triumph on The Nine the day after, Wardell said: “To be honest, it was a bit of a disaster, but I just have to keep on trucking and keep racing. 

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“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?”

His partner and Olympic champion cyclist Katie Archibald has told how she “tried and tried” to save him.

She said he had gone into cardiac arrest while they were lying in bed together, as she said she “can’t describe” the pain of his death.

In an emotional statement, posted on Twitter, Archibald, who won gold medals at both the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, said: “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.”

Archibald added: “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.”

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Scottish Cycling said it was “devastated” to confirm the death of its former employee and international mountain biker Wardell. 

In a post on Twitter, they added: “We have very little information at this stage, but we send our love and support to his family, friends and all those in our community who knew him.”

The Scottish Cross Country Association, which runs the mountain bike race series, said Wardell’s death was the “saddest news”.

A statement on their Facebook page said: “Our deepest sympathy to his friends, family and loved ones. 

“He will be truly missed by our community and his determination, talent and friendship will live on in all our hearts and memories. 

“I’m sure more eloquent words will be written by many but RIP Rab. Our Champion, Our Inspiration, Our Friend.”