The push of the pedals
Zoe Bäckstedt will race her Paris-Roubaix debut on Wahoo Speedplay pedals gifted by her father, 2004 winner Magnus Bäckstedt
Usually, the push of the pedals indicates the start of a ride. But this Saturday, when Zoe Bäckstedt sees the checkered flag drop at Paris-Roubaix and clips in, the push of her pedals, given to her by her father, will signal a continuation, rather than a beginning.
In 2004, a rider from Sweden won the 103rd edition of Paris-Roubaix. Later, he would ride for our men's team, but that was a few years down the road still. On this particular April day, he was an established pro, respected in the peloton already with a Tour de France stage win to his name and podium results sprinkled throughout his career. Standing on top of the podium at the Roubaix velodrome, he felt the heft of his trophy – a single cobblestone – in his hands and he knew the future looked bright. There would be more opportunities, more race results to come, and most importantly, more family. He and his wife had a healthy daughter at home, two-and-a-half year-old Elynor, and another on the way. Six months after his win at the Hell of the North, Zoe Jane Bäckstedt was born to Megan and Magnus Bäckstedt.
Now, some eighteen years later, Zoe is about to make her Paris-Roubaix debut. She will also make history. She is the first daughter of a former winner to race the iconic cobbles of northern France.
Though Magnus will be at the race, this time it will be as a sports director with another team rather than as a rider. But he has always made it a priority to show his love and support to both of his children and he knew that he couldn’t miss this opportunity to be with Zoe.
"It’s a bit of dad’s success and his journey coming into my race and that brings me luck.”
Zoe will use a pair of cross-shaped Wahoo Speedplay pedals made in commemoration of Magnus’s Roubaix winning pedals.
“He gave them to me not long after I joined the team,” Zoe remembers. “We’d just moved me to Belgium and he’d had them at home and he was super excited to give them to me. I’d seen them maybe once or twice before.”
Her face lights up as she thinks back to when her dad placed the Wahoo Speedplay pedals in her hand.
“I just thought, ‘This is awesome!’ I couldn’t wait because I didn’t know for sure at that time if I was going to be racing Roubaix, so I was just thinking, ‘I really hope I get to race Roubaix now just so I can ride these pedals.’”
During the team recon earlier this week, Zoe tested out her new pedals. Her verdict?
“I hit the cobbles and just thought, ‘I love this!’ Just riding along the cobbles, knowing that you can’t predict what is going to happen at all. I just hit the sector and thought, ‘Yeah!’ I’m super excited.”
Not that Zoe hasn’t done her homework ahead of the race. She’s ridden most of the sectors on her own and did a recon with Magnus last year. She knows the 2004 edition of Paris-Roubaix particularly well. After all, she has watched it countless times.
“It’s on YouTube, his whole race. We watch it as a family. I should probably sit down and watch it again before race day just because it’s such a cool thing,” Zoe says. “It’s just really cool that he won it and now I’m racing it, my sister is also racing it for the first time when dad is directing it for the first time. We’re all in the race for the first time and it means a lot to us as a family. My mum and grandma are coming across so it’s going to be a really big family outing for us.”
For 145 kilometers, Zoe’s dad will be alongside her everytime she pushes her pedals.
“Roubaix is going to feel tough. I know that. But using these pedals just gives me that bit of excitement. It’s a bit of dad’s success and his journey coming into my race and that brings me luck.”