First UCI World Championship title for cyclo-cross awarded
Great Britain’s Zoe Backstedt broke away on the first lap and rode away with the first individual title in the women’s Junior race Saturday at the 2022 Walmart UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships at Centennial Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas, U.S.A.
Backstedt won by 32 seconds over second-place Leonie Bentveld of The Netherlands. Dutch teammate Lauren Molengraff finished third 57 seconds behind to round out the podium.
Backstedt’s power was evident from the gun as she rolled off after the first lap and was able to hold her first position for the rest of the race. Backstedt’s pedigree is well noted with father Magnus Backstedt a former Paris-Roubaix and Tour de France stage winner and mother Megan Hughes is former British national champion in the road race. Backstedt’s sister was a bronze medallist at the world championships in track.
“It is great to bring home the rainbow jersey for Great Britain,” said Backstedt, who won the junior world championship in the road race in 2021. “That main climb, everybody said it, but it is absolutely savage. It is technical on the downhills, but the rest of it you can put power down in a lot of places. I went out there and just enjoyed it. The course is so much fun.”
More than 10,000 spectators jammed the 1.8-mile (3 kilometer) course with a potpourri of flags that seemed to span the 25-plus countries represented at the World Championships for cyclo-cross.
“I was shocked,” said Backstedt, referring to the crowds. “I was like, Belgium has big crowds but this is almost as big as Belgium, but they make more noise than Belgium, so it was absolutely awesome. I was absolutely loving it out there. I heard my name a lot, some with American accents.”
The chase groups hunting Backstadt the whole race included Federica Venturelli of Italy, Elia Maclean-Howell of Great Britain, Canadian sisters Ava and Isabella Holmgren and Lilou Fabregue of France. The top American finisher was Kathrine Sarkisov, the U.S. Junior National Champion, who is from North Potomac, Md.
- Zoe Backstedt (Great Britain)
- Leonie Bentveld (The Netherlands), 32 seconds behind
- Lauren Mollengraff (The Netherlands) 57 seconds behind