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Schmid takes USA's first medal at Worlds with road race silver

Kaia Schmid (USA) silver medal in the junior women's road race at the 2021 World Championships
Kaia Schmid (USA) silver medal in the junior women's road race at the 2021 World Championships (Image credit: Getty Images)

The USA collected their first medal of the World Championships in the junior women's road race on Saturday morning, with teenager Kaia Schmid taking silver after sprinting for the win against Great Britain's Zoe Bäckstedt.

The 18-year-old followed a Bäckstedt attack with 30 kilometres to go in the 75-kilometre race, staying away to contest the finish at the end of five laps of the tough, hilly circuit in Leuven.

Speaking after the race, Schmid said that she thought her best chance of winning was from a bunch sprint, but that there was no way she could have let Bäckstedt, who was countering a caught move from a British teammate, head off alone given her time trialling prowess.

"So I think my best chance of winning today was going to be coming down to a bunch sprint," said Schmid. "I know Zoe is really strong in time trials so if I was to attack then she was just going to sit on my wheel just like I did when she attacked.

"Obviously, I came here to win today's race so falling short of that goal is a little bit disappointing especially when you were very close. At the Track Worlds I knew I was challenging the best girls in the world so I came here knowing that I could contend for the win. But I still stuck with second and making a World Championships podium is a good day."

Schmid has enjoyed a season to remember at junior level, tasting success at the Rás na mBan in Ireland, winning Elimination Race gold at the Junior Track Worlds in Cairo, and finishing runner-up in the junior road race at the US National Championships.

A multi-disciplinarian, she rode cyclo-cross in the past and is also a convert from another sport – freestyle skiing. She said that her focus going forward is on road cycling and making it to the top of the sport, though.

"I competed in skiing for many years," she said. "My roots are also in skiing but ultimately, I want to be on the bike and that's the direction I'm heading. I would consider myself a climbing sprinter on the bike, as I like to put it.

"Ultimately, I want to be on the road and take that as far as I can go – the WorldTour, Olympics, elite World Championships."

While some Scandinavian cyclists have been known to use cross-country skiing for winter training, and Vuelta a España champion Primož Roglič was famously a ski jumper, Schmid's discipline was very different, though she said that some skills do cross over the two sports.

"Skiing is very different because you're doing flips and stuff and you're definitely not doing flips on the bike – well, maybe," she joked.

"But I think it trained me well because I'm always hiking the mountain to go do a jump and I gained endurance through that. It's definitely technical, and I learned stuff from that I can apply to road racing."

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Daniel Ostanek

Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content on Cyclingnews and takes on live race text coverage throughout the season.


Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Tro-Bro Léon, Strade Bianche, and the Vuelta a España.