Bäckstedt Seals First World Tour Win

Zoe Bäckstedt took her first-ever World Tour classification win on Sunday by winning Best Young Rider after the final stage of the Simac Ladies Tour in the Netherlands. The 18-year-old British rider finished fifth in the general classification, just ahead of teammate Kasia Niewiadoma who was sixth. Niewiadoma was awarded the Most Competitive Rider on the stage, after a fierce solo attack in the final 20 kilometres of the stage.

On her debut with CANYON//SRAM Racing, Bäckstedt moved into the Best Young Rider jersey after the individual time trial stage two, taking it over from teammate Maike van der Duin and never letting go. Between Bäckstedt and Van der Duin, CANYON//SRAM Racing led the classification for all six days of the stage race.

The final stage’s parcours around Arnhem created exciting racing, with the constellation of the lead group changing several times. After 40km of racing, a group of 20 riders led the race, including Neve Bradbury and Niewiadoma. Later, Bäckstedt joined a chase group to catch the leaders, with Bradbury’s role to keep the pace high and follow new attacks.

Despite a strong chase from some teams bringing the gap down to under 30 seconds, the peloton never caught the lead group. Niewiadoma saw a moment to attack in the final 20km and seized her opportunity. She gained close to 30 seconds as the GC contenders chased in earnest. Niewiadoma was caught with less than 3km remaining, with Lorena Wiebes winning the stage. Lotte Kopecky (SDW) won the GC, with Bäckstedt in fifth place at just +50 seconds and Niewiadoma sixth at +55 seconds.

Zoe Bäckstedt said of her first win in her new team, “Today’s stage was good fun! Of course, it was hard and super hot again, but I enjoyed racing on these roads and finishing my first race with these amazing teammates.”

“We had great communication, speaking a lot to each other in the front group and on the radio to communicate things with the car too. I was expecting that the second group would come back, especially as the gap came down to less than 30 seconds. We were ready for our plan A and go all in for Maike in the sprint at the finish.”

“It feels super cool to win the Best Young Rider jersey! I’m really happy with it. There was one moment when I was dropped from the group with Van Anrooj and I had to chase to close the gap. I took a small rest after I rejoined her group and then we caught the front group that had Kasia and Neve. After that, it was just fighting all the way to the finish! It really means a lot to take this jersey in my first race with CANYON//SRAM Racing.”

Kasia Niewiadoma added, “Personally, I’m happy I was able to race in a little different way than I would usually. With my attack in the final, I saw Lotte pulling quite hard on the front for some time, and there was a moment when she slowed. I used it as a motivation to go. I focused on pushing hard, especially on the hills, and refocused myself as if I was doing a time trial until the finish. I usually don’t pay attention to time gaps, because I find it distractive, because you can think to give up if you see it’s only a few seconds. I felt quite fatigued, but I knew it would be the same for the rest of the peloton. I knew the lap was fast, and I just wanted to ride it smartly without looking at what was happening behind my back.”

“I underestimated this stage, because I thought it was going to be quite controlled, but the race pace was high from the very beginning. The course was very demanding and required full concentration and focus, so I was super happy to see our youngster Neve being present in the front at all times! She was fighting for her position and reacting to multiple attacks. Zoe made a massive effort bridging between two groups and, with that, defended her young jersey! I know how much Maike wanted to sprint for the stage in front of her friends and family, so it’s a pity she couldn’t get the opportunity.”

“This tour was perfectly made for sprinters and big lead-out trains. We came here with quite a lot of climbers, yet that didn’t discourage us from trying to fight for a stage win, GC and extra jerseys! I loved seeing especially our young riders showing their grit, fighting spirit and passion for racing. Tiff (Cromwell), coming from a block of gravel racing, showed us that we can count on her anytime and anywhere, and we can count on her experience and racing knowledge.”

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