In May, Elynor Backstedt completed the Women's Tour de Yorkshire, finishing in 35th place overall. The 17-year-old, who rides for Storey Racing, was the youngest in the race, and comes from a cycling family, with her father Magnus Backstedt a former Tour de France stage winner and the victor in the 2004 edition of Paris Roubaix, while her mother Megan Hughes is a former Welsh and British national road champion.
At the finish of stage 2 at the Tour de Yorkshire, Elynor and Magnus were both on hand to talk about this year's race, her career to date, and the pressures of riding under the Backstedt name.
CN: Firstly, Elynor, how was it out there on stage 2 and what's the experience been like at the race as a whole?
Elynor Backstedt: I have no words. It was such a great experience but the weather was terrible. We had rain, snow, wind and I nearly got blown off a few times but it was such a fun race. It was tough out there but I really enjoyed it.
CN: Magnus, you've been here at the race. What have you made of Elynor's performance?
Magnus Backstedt: It's great to see that she's enjoying her sport and enjoying the racing. She's still a junior but the most important aspect for me is that she loves what she's doing and carries on with that.
CN: How much of an influence is Magnus on your career?
EB: He's a major influence for me. He helps, passes on all his advice, and even comes out for training with me sometimes, which is really nice.
EB: I don't remember that much. I was quite young when he was in the pro peloton. I remember more from afterwards when he was racing on some smaller teams. He doesn't really talk about things from his time but he tries to relate his experience to women's cycling because it's different. He still has things that are relevant to share, and that's great. I'm the youngest rider here so it's inspiring to be here and riding around with some of the big names. I'm like the little one in the bunch but it's been an amazing experience.
CN: Magnus, how would you compare the stresses and feelings of racing yourself with watching your daughter race these days?
MB: It's a different sort of stress. You can't influence anything that they do on the bike. That's virtually impossible, so it's just about being there for her – whether that's through good or bad. If things aren't going well then you help to pick up the pieces. And when things are going well you help her to enjoy those moments. It's a lot more stressful being in the team car than when I was out there on the bike.
CN: Magnus, do you see big differences in the peloton now when compared to when you were racing?
MB: In the women's peloton you have far more depth than you had even just a few years ago. That's going to continue to evolve over the next five to 10 years, even though the standard is already super high. The fact there's live television for some races is great but obviously a few more still need to catch up. The sport is in a good place and the women’s peloton is certainly moving towards where it’s supposed to be. It's important that we separate men's and women's cycling, that they have their own identity and that there aren't too many comparisons to the men's side. The men's pro peloton is what it is. It keeps evolving and it keeps getting tougher.
EB: Well, we don't have a women's Tour de France so I can't do the exact same thing but to be at that level, that's where I want to be.
CN: Do people treat you differently because of Backstedt name?
EB: It is what it is. I can't change my name [laughter from both Backstedts]. If other people want to focus on what I'm called, that's fine, but if they want to treat me like any other rider that's great. I don't want to be treated differently because of my surname and I want to do things for myself. I want to be known as Elynor and not because of what my father or my mother did.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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