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Zoe Backstedt wins junior women UCI cyclo-cross world title

Zoe Backstedt (Great Britain) lived up to all of the pre-race hype as the overwhelming favourite for the junior women's World title in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She rode away on the first lap and built an unassailable lead on each of the five laps to win the junior title in Fayetteville at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships

Her main rival, Leonie Bentveld (Netherlands) could not quite match Backstedt but also rode away from the chasing group on the first lap. Bentveld's teammate Lauren Molengraaf rounded out the podium after riding away from a five-rider group once Bentveld was well clear.

The race was the first cyclo-cross Worlds for all of the juniors after the 2021 race was limited to only the elite and under-23 fields.

"It's pretty special, I've targeted this rainbow jersey in cyclo-cross since last season when it was cancelled in Belgium. I think the fire from having that race cancelled was going into today's race," Backstedt said.

Molengraaf took the hole shot, with a great start by the two British riders in the contest, Backstedt along with teammate and national junior champion Ella Maclean-Howell. In a statement move, Backstedt powered up the first pass of the long climb at Centennial Park to open a lead her at the front she would never relinquish.

Bentveld was forced to come back from a disappointing start but managed to make her way out of the chasing group but by then, Backstedt was long gone. 

"I completely missed my start so I'm a little bit upset. On the first climb I was place six or five, and Zoe was going away and I missed it, and I'm a little bit upset. I think I will later be happy."

By the fourth lap, Bentveld had extended her second-place slot over a small chasing group of riders while Backstedt was no where to be seen ahead, holding a lead of close to 20 seconds. Molengraaf managed to create separation ahead of Frederica Venturelli (Italy) and Lilou Fabregue (France) to slip into a third-place position, 12 seconds ahead of the pair.

Backstedt was thrilled to take her second world title, after winning the junior road race at the Road World Championships and shed tears of joy on the podium.

"When I have fun, I do well," she said, and she had fun out there today.

"The whole course I absolutely loved it. I came here yesterday and the descent was a lot slippier yesterday than it was today so I came into that and was not as confident as I could be. But I went out this morning and it was frozen - it was perfect conditions."

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Zoe Backstedt (Great Britain) 0:41:16
2Leonie Bentveld (Netherlands) 0:00:32
3Lauren Molengraaf (Netherlands) 0:00:57
4Ella Maclean-Howell (Great Britain) 0:01:06
5Federica Venturelli (Italy) 0:01:09
6Lilou Fabregue (France)
7Ava Holmgren (Canada) 0:01:38
8Isabella Holmgren (Canada) 0:01:49
9Alma Johansson (Sweden) 0:01:57
10Julia Kopecky (Czech Republic) 0:02:03
11Katherine Sarkisov (United States Of America) 0:02:07
12Keira Bond (United States Of America) 0:02:53
13Barbora Jeřábková (Czech Republic) 0:03:06
14Chloe Fraser (United States Of America) 0:03:23
15Kateřina Hladíková (Czech Republic) 0:04:10
16Valentina Corvi (Italy) 0:04:14
17Ella Myers (Canada) 0:04:18
18Mia Aseltine (United States Of America) 0:04:23
19Jenaya Francis (Canada) 0:04:43
20Eliška Hanáková (Czech Republic) 0:04:44
21Fleur Moors (Belgium) 0:05:18
22Kiara Lylyk (Canada) 0:05:36
23Vanda Dlasková (Czech Republic)
24Elsa Westenfelder (United States Of America) 0:07:38

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