Zoe Backstedt (Great Britain) won the junior women’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships in a two-woman sprint against Kaia Schmid (USA).
The two riders broke clear on the third of five laps in Leuven, then worked well together all the way to the finale to sprint for victory, with Backstedt edging it by a bike length.
Linda Reidmann (Germany) led home the chasing group to win the bronze medal ahead of Elise Uijen (Netherlands) and Makayla MacPherson (USA).
“I have no words at all,” said a tearful Backstedt at the finish. “I can’t believe I’ve just done that, that was probably the hardest race I have ever done."
Backstedt countered a move of her teammate, Flora Perkins, on the Sint-Antoniusberg during the third lap, where she went clear with Schmid.
Perkins and her other teammate Millie Couzens then did a great job of disrupting the chase behind, while Backstedt and Schmid worked harmoniously together to extend their advantage.
“I was just trying to keep us moving, keep us away from the group behind. I knew I had teammates in the group. My three other teammates, I knew they would be able to help try and get the gap out a little more, and once it was above thirty seconds I knew that I could hold it with the American [Schmid].
“We kept communicating, saying ‘keep pushing, let's get ourselves to the line and sprint it out and see what happens on the last lap’.’ And we did that, it came down to a sprint and I just had it.”
Aside from a few tentative digs, neither rider chose to mount an all-out attack on any of the climbs, both instead trusting their sprint.
Backstedt found herself in the less desirable position of leading out the sprint in the final kilometre, but remained calm, and slowed the pace while keeping a watchful eye on Schmid.
Schmid was the first to open her sprint, and briefly held the lead, but Backstedt had the power to pass her before the line and take victory — much to the joy of her father and former Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus, who was commentating live on Eurosport.
How it unfolded
The women’s junior road race consisted of five laps of the circuit in Leuven.
Like in Friday's men’s junior and under-23 road races, there were more early crashes on the twisty, narrow circuit, with a couple of riders coming down in the neutralised zone.
Another crash occurred within the first kilometre of the race proper, with Violetta Kazakova (Kazakhstan) and Alena Moiseeva (Russia) both hitting the deck.
The Dutch and British teams were the early pace-setters, and they did considerable damage to the peloton during the first lap, dropping several riders out of the back on the climbs. The lead group was reduced to about 20 riders after the first climb of the Sint-Antoniusberg, but many more managed to rejoin by the first crossing of the finish line to mark the end of the first lap.
Those teams continued to control the race in the second lap, with the Danes also showing themselves at the front.
Flora Perkins (Great Britain) was the first rider to make an attack, accelerating the second time up the Wijnpers, and going clear from the rest of the peloton along with thirteen other riders: British teammates Zoe Backstedt and Millie Couzens, plus Makayla MacPherson, Olivia Cummins, Kaia Schmid (all USA), Laura Sander, Elizabeth Ebras (both Estonia), Selma Lantzsch, Linda Riedmann (both Germany), Elise Uijen, Anna van der Meiden (both Netherlands), Noelle Ruetschi (Switzerland) and Marith Vanhove (Belgium).
By the end of the second lap, they had a gap of ten seconds over a chasing group led by the Russians and the Italians, who had missed the move. They made the catch during the third lap, meaning the lead group more than doubled to over thirty riders.
Backstedt then became the second British rider to make an attack, this time on the third ascent of Wijnpers, and briefly went clear with five riders before a regrouping. Perkins attacked again just prior to Sint-Antoniusberg, then Backstedt countered with Schmid once that move was closed down on the climb to form a new leading duo.
Backstedt and Schmid had a lead of eight seconds by the beginning of the fourth and penultimate lap, and, despite the best efforts of teams such as the Germans, Russians and Dutch, the pair continued to extend that lead until it was over 30 seconds. Backstedt’s teammates Perkins and Couzens did a good job disrupting the chase, keeping themselves towards the front of the group and making it difficult for their rival teams to take turns.
With the gap now over 40 seconds, Backstedt attempted to drop Schmid with an attack 22.5km from the finish, but failed to do so.
The chase was held up by a crash at the bottom of the Wijnpers, while Riedmann went solo in an attempt to bring back the leading duo. Her effort reduced the chasing group to seven, and their deficit to just over 20 seconds.
Crucially, Backstedt’s teammates Perkins and Couzens and Schmid’s teammate MacPherson were both among those seven, making it difficult for the other four riders to organise a committed chase.
The group did get more coherent though when eight more riders joined them on Sint-Antoniusberg, and were still in contention at the bell with a deficit of 40 seconds. However, there remained a lack of willingness to commit, and the lead quickly ballooned up to over a minute a few kilometres into the last lap.
By now it was clear that they were racing for bronze, which Riedmann won in a sprint, while the top prizes of gold and silver went to Backstedt and Schmid respectively.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Zoe Backstedt (Great Britain)||1:55:33|
|2||Kaia Schmid (United States Of America)|
|3||Linda Riedmann (Germany)||0:00:57|
|4||Elise Uijen (Netherlands)|
|5||Makayla Macpherson (United States Of America)|
|6||Millie Couzens (Great Britain)|
|7||Marith Vanhove (Belgium)|
|8||Eglantine Rayer (France)|
|9||Eleonora Ciabocco (Italy)|
|10||Mijntje Geurts (Netherlands)|
|11||Valeria Valgonen (Russian Cycling Federation)||0:01:02|
|12||Flora Perkins (Great Britain)||0:01:03|
|13||Anna van der Meiden (Netherlands)||0:01:05|
|14||Francesca Barale (Italy)|
|15||Carola van de Wetering (Netherlands)||0:01:15|
|16||Madelaine Leech (Great Britain)|
|17||Elisabeth Ebras (Estonia)||0:01:16|
|18||Anniina Ahtosalo (Finland)|
|19||Laura Lizette Sander (Estonia)|
|20||Elina Tasane (Estonia)|
|21||Alena Ivanchenko (Russian Cycling Federation)|
|22||Wilma Aintila (Finland)|
|23||Maurene Tregouet (France)||0:04:30|
|24||Olivia Cummins (United States Of America)|
|25||Solbjoerk Anderson (Denmark)|
|26||Flavie Boulais (France)|
|27||Jade Linthoudt (Belgium)|
|28||Lana Eberle (Germany)|
|29||Noemie Daumas (France)|
|30||Michela de Grandis (Italy)|
|31||Noelle Ruetschi (Switzerland)|
|32||Lucia Ruiz Perez (Spain)|
|33||Selma Lantzsch (Germany)||0:05:28|
|34||Tereza Kurnicka (Slovakia)||0:06:04|
|35||Julie Hendrickx (Belgium)|
|36||Carlotta Cipressi (Italy)|
|37||Malwina Mul (Poland)|
|38||Sofia Gomes (Portugal)|
|39||Karen Gonzalez Ramirez (Colombia)|
|40||Jette Simon (Germany)|
|41||Lea Huber (Switzerland)|
|42||Nienke Vinke (Netherlands)|
|43||Fiona Zimmermann (Switzerland)|
|44||Bota Batyrbekova (Kazakhstan)|
|45||Laia Puigdefabregas Ariz (Spain)|
|46||Tamara Szalinska (Poland)|
|47||Laura Rojas Capera (Colombia)|
|48||Karina Gaifullina (Russian Cycling Federation)|
|49||Ana Vivar Torres (Ecuador)|
|50||Gabriela Lopez Irreno (Colombia)|
|51||Karin Soderqvist (Sweden)|
|52||Eliska Kvasnickova (Czech Republic)|
|53||Victoria Lund (Denmark)||0:06:28|
|54||Sofiya Karimova (Uzbekistan)|
|55||Johanna Martini (Austria)|
|56||Camilla Raanes Bye (Norway)|
|57||Pija Galof (Slovenia)|
|58||Kirke Reier (Estonia)|
|59||Beatriz Roxo (Portugal)|
|60||Evelina Ermane Marcenko (Latvia)|
|61||Isla Walker (Canada)|
|62||Daniela Schmidsberger (Austria)|
|63||Aukse Strainyte (Lithuania)|
|64||Sonica Klopper (South Africa)|
|65||Serena Jeanette Torres (El Salvador)|
|66||Sara Moreno Benitez (Colombia)|
|67||Anna Kuskova (Uzbekistan)|
|68||Laura Auerbach-Lind (Denmark)|
|69||Ilona Feytou (France)||0:06:37|
|70||Joline Winterberg (Switzerland)||0:06:39|
|71||Nusa Moroz (Slovenia)||0:06:43|
|72||Gabriela Bartova (Czech Republic)||0:10:09|
|73||Alina Moiseeva (Russian Cycling Federation)|
|74||Violetta Kazakova (Kazakhstan)|
|75||Olena Rebrakova (Ukraine)||0:10:11|
|76||Antonia Niedermaier (Germany)|
|77||Nicole Cordova Guerra (Mexico)|
|78||Nika Bobnar (Slovenia)||0:11:49|
|79||Chloe Patrick (United States Of America)|
|80||Daniela Lozano Martinez (Mexico)||0:11:51|
|81||Aoife o Brien (Ireland)|
|82||Fien Masure (Belgium)|
|83||Eleni Koukouma (Cyprus)|
|84||Chloe Bateson (South Africa)|
|85||Naroa Fernandez Rodriguez (Spain)|
|86||Ivana Tonkova (Bulgaria)||0:11:55|
|87||Valentina Basilico (Italy)||0:11:56|
|88||Miriama Cisecka (Slovakia)||0:11:58|
|89||Alla Marushchuk (Ukraine)||0:12:41|
|90||Oda Laforce (Norway)||0:13:40|
|91||Felicia Bengtsson (Sweden)|
|92||Yelizaveta Grinberg (Kazakhstan)||0:16:10|
|93||Anna Kolyzhuk (Ukraine)|
|94||Kotryna Straksyte (Lithuania)|
|DNF||Nicole Bradbury (Canada)|
|DNF||Olga Wankiewicz (Poland)|
|DNF||Marie Schreiber (Luxembourg)|
|DNF||Lilly Ujfalusi (Canada)|
|DNF||Caitlin Thompson (South Africa)|
|DNF||Yelena Mandrakova (Kazakhstan)|
|DNF||Dylan Baker (Canada)|
|DNF||Mariela del Carmen Flores Quintanilla (Mexico)|
|DNF||Erin Grace Creighton (Ireland)|
|DNF||Kitija Siltumena (Latvia)|
|DNF||Margarita Misyurina (Uzbekistan)|
|DNF||Ida Mechlenborg Krum (Denmark)|
|DNF||Chante Olivier (South Africa)|
|DNF||Alondra Granados Bonilla (Costa Rica)|
|DNF||Julia Wudniak (Poland)|
|DNF||Nahia Imaz Perez (Spain)|
|DNF||Julia Kopecky (Czech Republic)|
|DNF||Laura Belohvoscika (Latvia)|
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