Zoe Bäckstedt keeps composed until finish line tears to take rainbow jersey as dad Magnus watches on from the booth

Bäckstedt reveals she had a slow puncture for the entire race

Zoe Backstedt
(Image credit: Getty)

There were emotional scenes for the Bäckstedt in Leuven and back home in the UK, as Zoe won the rainbow jersey in the women's junior road race while dad Magnus watched nervously from the Eurosport commentary booth.

“I’ve never cried so much after a race. I crossed the line and I realised I was world champion. It just means so much to me that I can wear this jersey next year,” Zoe said.

“I saw my sister and my mum but I haven’t seen my dad because he was back home commentating on the race for Eurosport. Apparently he was crying when I crossed the line. My sister and mum were both crying at the finish as well, they were so happy for me and I’m so glad I could see them beyond the line.”

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Bäckstedt had broken away with Kaia Schmid, the Brit unable to rid herself of the American and having to win the two-up sprint to claim the rainbow bands.

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“We worked so well together. Once we got away as a two, we just kept pushing. I tried to just get a gap and see what happened because I knew I was strong enough to be able to ride the last bit solo, as I’m quite good at time trialling," Bäckstedt explained. "Once I’m on my own and in the zone I know I can go. But I wasn’t able to get rid of her. I was a bit annoyed because I wanted to go it alone but it’s not bad to have someone else with you.”

Bäckstedt revealed she thought she had a slow puncture for the entire race, making her victory even more impressive, but she remained composed throughout, focused on the run-in and how she could take victory.

“I think I had a slow puncture for the whole race. I could feel at one point that it was a little bit flat, but from cyclocross I know I can ride a tyre that’s got a bit less air in, I just have to be a bit more careful on the corners," Bäckstedt said. “I knew if I could get into the last corner first, I could take it at my speed and she wouldn’t be able to get away from me, so I took it first and took it up to a sprint and it worked out perfectly."

Jonny Long

Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.


Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).


I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.