By Hannah Blackwell
Zoe Backstedt has been included in the Great Britain team to compete in the 2023 UEC Cyclo-cross European Championships this weekend.
The Welsh rider will be in Pont-Chateau, France, to compete as part of an 11-strong mix of experienced and debutant riders, all vying to take a place on the podium to give an early boost to their cyclo-cross season.
After finishing fifth in last year’s under-23 event, and a first and second place in this year’s cyclo-cross World Cup rounds so far, 19-year-old Backstedt will be among the favourites for the under-23 women’s podium.
News: GB for CX Europeans
Great Britain riders for European #Cyclocross Championships this weekend in France headed up by 2023 British Champions such as Zoe Backstedt, Cameron Mason, Imogen Wolff and Seb Grindley.https://t.co/jXN1hYs5ud #crossisboss pic.twitter.com/kpLQoaNejt
— British Cycle Sport (@VeloUK) October 31, 2023
The Pontyclun teenager struck cycling gold in September when she won the women’s U23 race at the European Road Cycling Championships in the Netherlands.
Matt Ellis, Cyclo-cross Co-ordinator for the Great Britain Cycling Team said: “With the cyclo-cross season now well underway, I’m excited to take such a strong team out to France to see what they can deliver on the European stage and use this opportunity to see how they’re performing so far in the season.
“It’s exciting to have such a mixed group to select from, with experienced riders such as Thomas Mein and Anna Kay alongside riders moving their way through the ranks and making their mark along the way, like Zoe Backstedt and Cat Ferguson.
“To be able to enter teams of such calibre, with well-seasoned pros and debutants experiencing their first European championships, shows the strength of talent coming through the pathways, as well as the impeccable coaching and support staff that work tirelessly to develop and support these riders to achieve their full potential.”
— CANYON//SRAM Racing & CANYON//SRAM Generation (@WMNcycling) October 28, 2023
The elite categories will be contested by cyclo-cross stalwarts Thomas Mein and Cameron Mason in the men’s category and Anna Kay in the women’s.
Mein has had a great start to his domestic season, taking two out of three wins to lead the National Trophy Series after three rounds.
Mason enters the event in good form after a top 10 finish in the second world cup round of the season in Maasmechelen, while Kay kicked off her cross season by taking three straight wins in the Hope Supercross, a home victory at the second round of the National Trophy Series, and a top 10 in the Telenet Superprestige Vlaamse Druivencross Overijse.
Current National Trophy Series runner-up Dan Barnes will compete in the under-23 men’s event.
Fun day on the bike!! https://t.co/q5MGK4b9CO
— Zoe Backstedt (@Backstedt_Zoe) October 15, 2023
After finishing fourth at last year’s European championships, Cat Ferguson will be looking to kick off her final year as a junior with a podium.
Teammate Imogen Wolff will also be vying for a medal after taking first and second place finishes in the first two rounds of the National Trophy Series.
Last year’s junior national champion Seb Grindley will head up the junior men’s squad, alongside debutants Lewis Tinsley, Oscar Amey and Jamie Stewart.
Great Britain Cycling Team squad for the 2023 UEC Cyclo-cross European Championships:
The competition kicks off on Friday 3 Nobember with the team relay event from 2.15pm UK time. Saturday will see the junior women (10am), under-23 men (12:30) and elite women (2pm) contest the European jersey, while junior men (10am), under-23 women (12:30pm) and elite men (2pm) take to the start line on Sunday. The under-23 and elite races will be shown live on Discovery+ and you can follow the British Cycling channels for highlights across the weekend.