The Great Britain Cycling Team ended the 2023 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships with more silver success as Zoe Backstedt took her first world championship medal in the women’s under-23 category.
Elsewhere in the team, Cameron Mason delivered an impressive top 10 finish in the elite men’s race, while junior rider Alfie Amey took a top 20 finish in his first year on the squad.
Backstedt got off to a strong start in the under-23 women’s race, getting out in front in the lead group of three, before dropping Marie Schreiber to continue head-to-head with race favourite, Shirin Anrooij of The Netherlands. Backstedt stayed close on Anrooij’s wheel for the first two laps, but as the race developed, Anrooij continued to push hard and by the penultimate lap had a 28 second lead on Backstedt.
Backstedt did well to stay on Anrooij’s wheel for as long as she could and held a strong one-minute lead on third place, meaning she crossed the finish line comfortably to claim the silver medal; an impressive end to the 18-year-old's first cyclo-cross season in the under-23 category.
Elsewhere in the race, debutants Millie Couzens and Ella Maclean-Howell rode well, sticking together for the majority of the race before finishing in 12th and 16th place respectively.
On her medal win, Backstedt said, “I’m really happy to have come second, it was a tough race. I tried to hold on to Shirin’s wheel for as long as possible, but I knew I wasn’t realistically going to be able to fight until the finish because she’s one of the best in the world in the elites as well as the under-23s. Once she’d gone, I help the gap of 9-10 seconds and was only 30 seconds behind overall so I’m over the moon with that.
“It’s been a good season, the start was a little bit rough, but it’s got better and better and with the world champs being the last race before I head to the road with the team, it gives me a lot of motivation and I’m just really happy.”
After starting far back in the gridding, Brits Cameron Mason and Thomas Mein worked well to quickly move up the race and position themselves comfortably within the main group.
Mason managed to get into a small chase group and worked to eventually drop riders, making his way up to fifth position by lap four. Later in the race, the gap opened up and Mason slowly dropped back, finally crossing the finish line in 9th position - a respectable end to what has been an all-round strong season for the young rider. Meanwhile, Mein stayed strong in the main group and worked hard to gradually move closer to the front of the group, finally coming away with a 14th place finish in the 10-lap race.
The race was eventually won by Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel in front of a home crowd after a hard-fought head-to-head with Belgium’s Wout Van Aert.
On the race, Mason said, “That was the fastest race of my life. It’s exactly what I came here for, but there’s so many things between wanting to get a top 10 and actually doing it so I just executed as well as I could with what I had, it was so hectic.
“When I got to the front, a lot of the moves had already gone so tactically it put the British riders in a difficult situation when the Belgians and the Dutch were already up the road. So, I worked a little bit and forced some splits, and I was just on my last legs all the way to the line, but I’m super happy with my performance and this cross season as well.”
The junior men’s race got the day off to an explosive start as a crash at the start line affected a number of riders, causing chaos and mechanicals from the off.
Managing to come away unscathed was debutant Alfie Amey, who delivered a solid performance in his first outing on the world stage. The young rider kept calm and maintained a steady pace, crossing the line in 17th place overall, a positive result to add to his team relay silver medal at his first world championships.
National champion Sebastian Grindley also delivered a steady ride, executing the course well and finishing 47th overall. Suffering from a snapped wheel in the early crash, Oli Akers worked hard to stay in the race and finished in 56th place.
After the race, Amey commented: “There was quite a few crashes at the start but I was pretty lucky and got round most of them. I feel good, I was aiming for top 30 so to come top 20 is pretty epic.”