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Zoe Backstedt joins – and beats – the elite at Essen cyclo-cross

The 17-year-old Brit proves there is little she can’t do as she powers through the mud to convincingly win the Ethias Cross Essen elite women’s race

17-year-old Zoe Backstedt extended her remarkable 2021 by dominating today’s elite women’s cyclo-cross race in Essen, her first win at senior level on Belgian soil.

The junior road race world champion and European junior cyclo-cross champion, riding for the Tormans team, led from start to finish on the extremely muddy course, using her power and pacing to claw away from her rivals on the long running sections that defined the race.

“I got the holeshot and so was first onto the bridge. That helped me get out front,” Backstedt said after her win. 

“However all the running gave me pain in my back but it was a fun course. The water was so deep that my front wheel went in and I almost went over the bars. 

“This win gives me confidence after two hard weeks of training to get ready for the World Cup races coming up. It’ll be good going into the junior race with the leader’s jersey.” 

The prodigious and multi-talented British rider finished 1:04 ahead of Laura Verdonschot of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal, with fellow Brit Anna Kay in third, 1:36 down.

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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