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Fayetteville, Arkansas (VN) – Zoe Bäckstedt (Great Britain) won the 2022 UCI world junior cyclocross championship.
The young British woman soloed to victory over Leonie Bentveld (The Netherlands) by 32 seconds, with Lauren Molengraaf (The Netherlands) in third nearly a minute back.
“I was thinking ‘just keep pressing on the pedals,’ basically, and just anywhere I could try to calm myself down and just make sure my breathing was okay. And just wherever there was flat or a little bit of incline or anywhere that I could like, I could put power down just try and try and keep the power on there and somehow get away and get a bit of a bigger gap,” Bäckstedt said.
The top American, Katherine Saarkisov, finished in 11th, 2:07 behind the winner.
Bäckstedt wasted little time in creating a commanding lead, taking to the front of the race in the second half of the first of five laps.
She was pursued by Bentveld for the next two laps, with little more than 18 seconds between them.
A chase group of five fought for the final remaining podium position into the fourth lap, when Molengraaf stretched away from the small bunch.
The two pursuing Dutch riders kept their feet on the gas and created a small gap behind them with riders in places four through nine trying to keep the women in orange in their sights.
“I completely missed my start, so I’m a little bit upset. And on the first climb I was around place six or five, I think. And so [Zoe] was going away as I missed it. So I’m a little bit upset, but I think I will later be happy,” Bentveld said.
With one lap to go, Bäckstedt maintained a 30-second lead over second place. She rode cautiously but aggressively on some of the technical and punchy small climbs just to make sure that she didn’t slip.
This is Bäckstedt’s second world championship win in the recent six months, after she won the women’s junior road world championships, in Flanders, Belgium, last fall.
“I mean, yeah, it’s pretty special. I’ve targeted this rainbow jersey since last season when [‘cross worlds] was canceled, in Belgium. So I think the fire from having that race canceled has gone into today’s race and it worked out okay,” added Bäckstedt.
2022 UCI world cyclocross championships junior women results
- ZoeBäckstedt (GBR), 41:16
- Leonie Bentveld (NED), at :32
- Lauren Molengraaf (NED), at :57
- Ella MacLean-Howell (GBR), at 1:06
- Federica Venturelli (ITL), at 1:09
- Lilou Fabregue (FRA), at 1:09
- Ava Holmgren (CAN), at 1:38
- Isabella Holmgren (CAN), at 1:49
- Alma Johnasson (SWE), at 1:57
- Julia Kopecky (CZE), at 2:03