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Brilliant Backstedt crowned under-23 champion on final day of UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships

Brilliant Backstedt crowned under-23 champion on final day of UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships

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Zoe Backstedt was crowned the under-23 world champion after a dominant solo performance on the final day of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic to make it three medals for the Great Britain Cycling Team. 

Cameron Mason finished a fantastic 24th place in the elite men’s race after an unfortunate start, while Thomas Mein battled hard but was unable to finish. Junior brothers Oscar and Alfie Amey came home 21st and 32nd, respectively, after fantastic displays of strength. 

Under-23 women

Zoe Backstedt powered to a dominant solo victory in the under-23 women’s race to claim her second cyclo-cross world title after her winning junior performance in 2022. 

Having taken the silver in last year’s event, Backstedt was determined to make it gold at this year’s world championships and attacked off the start line. Punching up the first bridge with ease, Backstedt sat in second position behind Marie Schreiber in the opening section of the race.

Climbing the stairs in the first half of the lap, Backstedt took the lead as Schreiber had a mechanical and dropped back into fourth. The British rider claimed a 10 second advantage in the opening five minutes to set a precedent for the rest of the race.

Having taken her first junior world cup win on this course in Tabor, Backstedt took lines and corners with ease, finishing the first lap 25 seconds ahead of Czech rider Kristyna Zemanova.

Backstedt danced over the course in the second lap, changing her bike with encouragement from her father Magnus Backstedt, and continued to push on with incredible power and control through the technical sections and muddy conditions. 

The 19-year-old continued to show ferocious confidence, riding the ruts smoothly and racking up her lead to a minute at the halfway point as she continued to look unstoppable with her impressive speed. 

Coming in with one lap remaining, Backstedt continued to attack the course one minute and six seconds ahead of the chasing riders. With her impeccable technique and huge power, Backstedt rode a faultless race to take the gold medal with incredible dominance.

Crossing the line with a punch in the air and a huge smile, Backstedt claimed her second world title in the discipline having won as a junior and added to her European under-23 title.

Zoe Backstedt winning

Speaking after her win, Backstedt said: 

“I am over the moon! I was a little bit nervous coming into this one. It’s been a really good season and I just wanted to top it off with this and I’m just so glad that I could do it. 

“For sure, it was a difficult race. I’m head to toe in mud and there were points of the course where you were just stopping still because of the mud, but that just made it so much fun.”

Elite men

Cameron Mason suffered an unlucky start in the elite men’s race to see him battle solo the entire race, while Thomas Mein had an unfortunate end to his world championship campaign as he was unable to finish. 

Having started in the second row, Mason suffered from a faulty start which left him battling from the gun to get through to the front. Scaling the stairs for the first time, the chasing pack were altogether with riders fighting for position with Mein in 25th and Mason in 33rd in a frantic opening lap.

As the front of the race pushed on the pace, the group began to string out and Mein came into the second lap in 21st and Mason in 29th. 

National champion Mason continued to stay calm and made his way through the third lap to 24th place just ahead of Mein in 25th. As the final race of the championships, the mud challenged riders with deep bogs causing less traction in the bends and slowing down Mason and Mein in the technical sections. 

Mason maintained his position as he came into the final lap, while Mein just dropped off the pace down in 32nd before the National Series champion was unable to continue.

After a commendable battle, Mason crossed the line in 24th place to round off his cyclo-cross season for Great Britain. 

Cameron Mason and Thomas Mein

Junior men

In the first race of the day, Oscar and Alfie Amey took to the dry course in fine form in the junior men’s race. 

National champion Oscar started the race well, spearheading the chasing group from the front to sit inside the top 15. Coming into the second lap, Oscar chased 16 seconds behind the leaders in 17th position. Meanwhile, Alfie had an issue off the start line to see him drop backwards, as three riders went off the front from the gun and put on the pressure to string out the pack.

As the race drew on, Oscar continued to use his skill and speed in the dry mud to hold his position, while Alfie moved through the pack to make it up to 31st position as the riders came into the fourth and final lap.

The brothers continued to throw the power down, flying over the obstacles and choosing their lines tactically, with Oscar coming home 21st and Alfie finishing 32nd.

Oscar Amey

The Great Britain Cycling Team claimed a total of three medals in the final event of the cyclo-cross season, with Zoe Backstedt’s gold and two silvers from junior rider Cat Ferguson and the team relay.