Elynor Bäckstedt finished the Tour de Yorkshire in a very respectable 35th place. The two day HC stage race was her first senior event and she completed it on junior gears. Coming off the back of a successful spring campaign having won two Nations Cup races, she took the step up in her stride.
“I just want to try and get round in the best shape possible,” she said ahead of the final stage to Scarborough that blew the race to pieces and saw just 78 riders finish the race.
On the first stage to Bedale she finished in 20th place in the bunch sprint, despite the gearing handicap. “I was spinning out from about six kilometres to go. I’m on a 14 up cassette and they’re all on 11s.”
“It’s weird. I felt comfortable in the bunch, but the top end, like the hills, it’s all very different to junior racing,” she explained. “This is nice and calm, because you have time, whereas junior races are 70km flat out and very twitchy in the bunch. This is my only senior race, and definitely the biggest and longest race I’ve ever done.”
Bäckstedt finished stage two in a big group almost seven minutes down on winner Marianne Vos and was barely able to swing her leg over her bike after the finish line. She was however Storey Racing’s only finisher after her team-mates abandoned on the way in to Scarborough.
Having missed the first half of the 2018 season due to glandular fever, Bäckstedt, daughter of Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus, has enjoyed an impressive 2019.
She won Ghent-Wevelgem in March and the Omloop van Borsele stage race – including two of the three stages – in April. She was second at the Healthy Ageing Tour and 16th at Binda. It’s these results that have put Great Britain at the top of the UCI’s nation ranking ahead of the Netherlands and the USA.
With the final nations cup race not until mid September attention will now turn to the track and the European track championships in Ghent this July. Bäckstedt is focusing on the team pursuit and the Madison with an eye on the other endurance events. Selection for the Worlds in Yorkshire is always on the horizon.
“Hopefully I’ll be there, but you never know what’s going happen,” she said. “I’ve brought my time trial bike up with me so I can go and look at the course.”
In the meantime it’s back to south Wales and training with her family. Her mother Megan was national road race champion in 1998 and competed on the track for Great Britain, while her younger sister Zoe is already enjoying success in the youth ranks. “Since I’ve become junior they’ve taken a step back, especially with coaching,” she said of her parents.
“They both give as much info as they can and sometimes come out training with me. Dad is often a motorpacer – not on a motorbike, just on his bike. He teaches me stuff from the men’s peloton that helps me be a more aggressive rider.”