Junior women allowed to race elite Cyclo-cross World Cup races

Zoe Backstedt (Tormans-Acrog) competes during the 35th Superprestige Ruddervoorde 2021
Zoe Backstedt (Tormans-Acrog) competes during the 35th Superprestige Ruddervoorde 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Junior women cyclo-cross riders are now permitted to enter elite races in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup after a recent change in regulations.

An amendment to article 5.1.003 now means that junior riders may enter the elite race at World Cup events where there is not a separate junior race. Where there is a separate race, junior women are not permitted to enter the elite race.

The UCI World Cup 2021-2022 features 16 rounds, but only five of these include separate races for junior riders. This is a decline from the 2019-2020 series, where seven of a total nine rounds featured separate junior races.

For junior riders entering elite races, there will be no separate results, and any World Cup points they receive will not count towards the overall standings in the Junior Women category.

The amended rule also states that they may be part of the extra quota of two riders given for under-23 riders in elite races.

The rule change came into force before the start of the World Cup, and junior women have been racing the elite events of the opening four rounds.

Canadian twins Ava and Isabella Holmgren both raced the first three rounds in the United States, whilst Zoe Backstedt and Julia Kopecky competed in the elite field in Zonhoven last weekend.

Recently-crowned junior road race world champion, Backstedt recorded the highest result for a junior so far this series, finishing 20th in Zonhoven.

Backstedt also won the junior women's race at the opening round of the Telenet Superprestige in Gieten earlier this month, the only round of the eight-part series to feature a separate junior women's race. Juniors may compete in the elite races at every other round of the Superprestige.

The first UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup junior races of the season will take place in Tabor on November 14. Junior races will also be included in Namur, Dendermonde, Flamanville and Hoogerheide, and the World Championships in January.

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Matilda Price is a freelance cycling journalist and digital producer based in the UK. She is a graduate of modern languages, and recently completed an MA in sports journalism, during which she wrote her dissertation on the lives of young cyclists. Matilda began covering cycling in 2016 whilst still at university, working mainly in the British domestic scene at first. Since then, she has covered everything from the Tour Series to the Tour de France. These days, Matilda focuses most of her attention on the women’s sport, writing for Cyclingnews and working on women’s cycling show The Bunnyhop. As well as the Women’s WorldTour, Matilda loves following cyclo-cross and is a recent convert to downhill mountain biking.