Zoe Bäckstedt sprints to the rainbow jersey

Saturday 25 September 2021

Britain's Zoe Bäckstedt is the new women's junior world champion. She accelerated alongside Kaia Schmid in the penultimate round, but defeated the American in a thrilling sprint.

The women’s juniors set off from a sunny Ladeuzeplein for five laps through Leuven city centre, on a 75-kilometre circuit. It was Great Britain that set an incredible pace from the start. In the first two laps it resulted in a huge thinning out of the pack, but at that point there was no real acceleration.

Zoe Bäckstedt’s moment came in the third round. The British leading lady accelerated on the Wijnpers with 36 kilometres to go. Only four women were able to keep up with her searing pace. The Belgian block had missed the boat so had a lot of work to do, which soon got them back on track.

Britain continued to put pressure on the depleted pack. Bäckstedt was clearly feeling good today and attacked a second time around 25 kilometres from the finish line. This time she was joined by American Kaia Schmid. The two continued to increase their lead. It was obvious that Bäckstedt and Schmid would have to battle it out for gold.

Bäckstedt tried to get away from Schmid in the final round, but the American stayed hard on her heels. The first sprint for the world title was imminent in Leuven, in which Magnus Bäckstedt's daughter proved too strong for Schmid. After taking silver at the UCI Road World Championships time trial between Knokke-Heist and Bruges, the Brit now takes gold in the road race. The German Linda Riedmann completed the podium