Zoe Bäckstedt claims junior Cyclocross World Championship title

The Brit delivers on favourite status in Fayetteville

Zoe Bäckstedt
(Image credit: Getty)

Zoe Bäckstedt is the junior cyclocross world champion.

Delivering on her status as race favourite, the 17-year-old attacked on the first lap up the long climb, disappearing from her rivals' views.

Bäckstedt had a 20-second gap after the halfway point, increasing to a minute at one point, before eventually crossing the line half a minute ahead of Dutchwoman Leonie Bentveld.

Lauren Molengraaf, also Dutch, claimed the bronze medal, a further half a minute adrift, just ahead of Brit Ella Maclean-Howell who claimed an agonising fourth-place finish.

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"To be honest, I'm shocked," Bäckstedt said after her win. 

“I had a pretty good season on the road and in the cross. But because of corona I was unlucky and missed the World Cup and had to miss the British National Championship. 

"However, it did ensure that I fought back stronger and was able to provide some extra fire today.”

Bäckstedt's first lap attack wasn't a spur of the moment thing, it was planned, and gives evidence to her dominance of the junior ranks.

“I spoke to my coach before the race and I wondered: am I going to attack right away on the first climb? He said if I felt good I should go for it. I started the climb second, threw my cards on the table and rode up as fast as I could," she said.

“Then I kept going. Every lap I went up the climb as hard as I could because I knew I could make a difference there. For the rest I had to check and make sure I wouldn't fall. It was a pretty good day!”

In the U23 Men's Championships, it was an all-Belgian podium,  Joran Wyseure claiming the rainbow jersey with Emiel Verstrynge and Thibau Nys claiming silver and gold respectively.

Result

UCI Cyclocross World Championship: Women Juniors

1. Zoe Bäckstedt (GBr), in 41-16
2. Leonie Bentveld (Ned), at 32 seconds
3. Lauren Molengraaf (Ned), at 57s
4. Ella Maclean-Howell (GBr), at 1-06
5. Federica Venturelli (Ita), at 1-09
6. Lilou Fabregue (Fra), at same time
7. Ava Holmgren (Can), at 1-38
8. Isabella Holmgren (Can), at 1-49
9. Alma Johansson (Swe), at 1-57
10. Julia Kopecky (Cze), at 2-03

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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.