Zoe Bäckstedt makes history

Brit defends her junior world road race title in commanding fashion

September 24, 2022

With tears in her eyes and an arm stretched high over her head, Zoe Bäckstedt claimed her second world title of this year's world championships in Wollongong making history as the first rider to ever have a world title on the track, cyclocross and road.

“I was in tears from a kilometer to go,” says Zoe, who is celebrating her eighteenth birthday today. “There were so many people out on course shouting my name shouting happy birthday. Especially on the climb, that's where I needed it the most. There were people running with me. In the corner of my eye there was this little girl in a pink onesie and she just kept running alongside me the whole time screaming my name. I am so grateful for that because it just pushed me on so much.”

Her dominant performance a few days ago in the time trial was just a little taste of what was to come in the road race. After going solo on the very first climb of the day, Zoe kept driving the pace and slowly pulled out a sizable gap over the chasing riders behind. But that wasn’t the plan coming into the race.

“Not in the slightest, especially not on the downhill. I planned to go with a lap to go or something like that,” says Zoe. “But I came over the climb the first time and I felt really good. I was climbing at the front, which, for a climb like that, and for me, the rider I am, that's not not predicted.”

Even as the chase got organized and the gap started to come down, the Brit kept tapping out her own tempo but she admitted feeling a little panicked in the moment.

“I mean, it got out I think 2 minutes 55 but then the last lap and a half, it started to shrink again,” says Zoe. “When I saw two minutes in my head I just started to panic.”

“But I had my coach in the car behind and she came up and said, ‘you've got two minutes, don't stress. Don't risk it on the downhill.’ But I did not listen to her on that part,” she chuckles. “I just dug in all the way to the line and this is the outcome.”

The Welsh rider crossed the line over two minutes ahead of the next best contestant, sealing her fifth consecutive world title and making history in the process. She is now the junior world champion in the Madison, in cyclocross, in the time trial, and on the road.

The victory was extra special for Zoe who is sharing the trip to Wollongong, Australia with her sister Elynor who is competing in the elite road race later today.

“I'll be out on the course cheering her on. I'm so proud of her and for getting selected for this race,” she says. “She called me when she got selected and was like ‘fancy a trip to Australia with me? And I literally just screamed. So I'm going to be out there shouting her on and I really can't wait to watch her race.”

Congratulations, Zoe. What an incredible ride.

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