Even via the factors of biking statement, which has been identified to veer into hyperbole from time to time, it was once rather a statement. “This is a performance we will remember for year upon year!” introduced Eurosport’s Rob Hatch as Wales’ Zoe Backstedt powered to the junior ladies’s time trial identify on the UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong, Australia, within the early hours of Tuesday morning (UK time).
“This is the birth of one of the best riders you have ever seen in your life! We are talking about one of the best young riders, male or female, this sport has ever seen!”
The fact is, even though, Hatch was once no longer unsuitable. Well, no longer about Backstedt’s skill anyway. The most effective factor you could quibble with was once the timing of her step forward. Anyone stunned via her win on Tuesday has obviously no longer been paying consideration.
The 17-year-old in reality introduced herself this time closing yr, in Flanders, when her dad, the previous Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt, famously broke down in tears commentating on Zoe’s win within the junior international highway race on the age of 16.
Since then, Backstedt has long gone on to win the Under-19 Tour of Flanders, the junior international cyclo-cross identify in Arkansas and the junior international Madison identify at the observe. Tuesday’s win, which got here at the similar day as fellow Welsh rider Josh Tarling received the boys’s junior identify, makes her the one rider within the historical past of biking to be an international champion in 4 disciplines on the similar time. She additionally received a stagiaire contract with professional staff EF Education-Tibco-SVB who she’s going to sign up for as a certified subsequent season.
Safe to say it’s been a completely extraordinary yr for the more youthful Backstedt sister, who lives in blissful chaos in the family home in Pontyclun south Wales, along side mum Megan, a former British and Wales nationwide highway race champion, dad Magnus, and older sister Elynor who rides for Trek-Segafredo.
And it might be about to get even higher. Backstedt defends her junior highway race identify on Saturday. It is secure to say she is a heavy favorite judging via the ability she laid down on Tuesday. The Welsh rider put a staggering 90 seconds into her nearest rival, Justyna Czapla of Germany, within the 14.1km time trial. Despite being on junior gearing, Backstedt was once in reality faster than the elite ladies’s winner, Ellen van Dijk, on the first time take a look at (even if the Dutchwoman had additional to move and did have a quicker reasonable pace via the top of her effort).
There is not any query Backstedt is essentially the most thrilling younger British feminine ability to have emerged in years; a potential heir to Lizzie Deignan. A rider able to difficult for elite international and Olympic titles in a couple of years. Which isn’t to disrespect the opposite thrilling younger British riders coming thru such as Pfeiffer Georgi, Anna Henderson, or even her own sister Elynor. But it feels as if there’s something further particular about Backstedt, merely on account of the best way she is cleansing up in each self-discipline.
Like Tom Pidcock at the males’s facet, Backstedt obviously relishes switching it up. And she does all of it with a grin on her face. The cameras loved Backstedt smiling and guffawing as she remembered to sing God Save the ‘King’ at the podium on Tuesday.
Who is aware of whether or not she will probably be ready to kick on. She has set the bar beautiful top now and there were different thrilling younger skills who’ve fizzled out beneath the drive, or were given unhealthy accidents.
For now, we will have to simply revel in the upward thrust of a unique ability. Beginning on Saturday. Can Backstedt double up this yr via profitable each the time trial and Saturday’s highway race, having taken silver and gold closing yr? This yr’s 67.2km direction options nearly 1,000m of mountaineering.
“I mean, of course I’ll try,” she advised Telegraph Sport closing week. “It received’t be simple as a result of everybody will probably be marking me. They know what I seem like they usually received’t need to let me break out. They will need to sit down on me, which might be irritating. But I do know that. We simply have to use other playing cards…
“I’ll just try to have fun on a bike. When I have fun on a bike, I tend to get good results.”