Zoe Bäckstedt takes first senior cyclocross victory in Essen

The 17-year-old wins by more than a minute in Belgium

Zoe Backstedt
(Image credit: Getty)

Zoe Bäckstedt has claimed her first-ever senior cyclocross victory.

The 17-year-old eased to her debut win amongst the elite women at the Robotland Cyclocross Essen, crossing the line more than a minute ahead of her nearest rival, Laura Verdonschot, who took second place.

In third came Bäckstedt's British compatriot Anna Kay, the 22-year-old a further 30 seconds behind.

"It was really hard, we went straight from the gun," Bäckstedt said afterwards, spattered in mud from her efforts.

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"I was basically running all of the mud [sections] every single lap so it put a lot of pain in my back but it was a really fun course in the end.

"It was so hard because the water was so deep you go down the little hill and sometimes your front wheel would go a bit too deep into the water and one time I did go over the bars but I had to play it by ear and every time I got to that part I'd assess and if it was quicker to run I'd just run."

Still only 17, Bäckstedt doesn't always compete in the elite field, a recent UCI rule change allowing her to test herself in the senior category while still maintaining her focus on keeping the World Cup leader's jersey for her junior age group.

“It gives me a lot of confidence after a hard couple of weeks getting ready for the Christmas period," Bäckstedt continued. "The World Cup next weekend is going to be good for me going into it with the leader's jersey for the junior's race so I'm hoping I can defend that. It's given me a lot of confidence."

In the three senior World Cup rounds Bäckstedt has competed in so far this season, she's come 20th, 26th and 22nd, while also winning the round in Tabor in the U19 category.

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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.