By Gareth James
Zoe Backstedt insisted she loved powering through the mud as she became a cyclo-cross world champion for the second time.
The teenage Welsh star 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.
Backstedt powered to a convincing victory in the women’s race to claim her second cyclo-cross world title after her winning junior performance in 2022.
The rider from Pontyclun admitted: “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.”
🌈 WORLD CHAMPION ZOE BACKSTEDT!
— Eurosport (@eurosport) February 4, 2024
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 problem 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.
2022 Women Junior World Champion ✅
2024 Women Under-23 World Champion ✅
— UCI Cyclocross (@UCI_CX) February 4, 2024
Backstedt danced over the course in the second lap, changing her bike with encouragement from her fathe, former professional rider 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.