Hardened cycling observers watched on in awe as British teen Zoe Backstedt obliterated the field to win the junior women’s time trial at the UCI Road World Championships.
The 17-year-old, who had been runner-up in the event last year, rode a scorching 18:26.78 to beat silver medallist Justyna Czapla of Germany by more than 95 seconds.
Backstedt was the pre-race favourite in Wollongong on Tuesday but no-one was prepared for the extent of her dominance.
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“Here comes the express train! This is absolutely phenomenal,” seasoned commentator Anthony McCrossan said on the Stan Sports coverage.
“This may well be the best time trial you’ve ever seen of a woman rider. You’ve just witnessed something absolutely exceptional.
“Wow – that was something very, very special. A stunning ride. I think she’s just removed the breath of everyone around the finish area. It was a ride in history.”
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Febe Jooris of Belgium was third and Australia’s Isabelle Carnes was eighth.
But the talk of the town was undoubtedly Backstedt, who has top notch cycling genes.
Backstedt’s father, Magnus, and mother, Megan Hughes, are both former professional cyclists – as is her sister Elynor.
“That’s goosebumps that she can sit up and look up at the scoreboard and punch the air before she crosses the line,” former Aussie pro Rochelle Gilmore said.
“She didn’t even have to pedal over the line. To have won a time trial, on restricted gears, over 14.1km, by 1:35, is extraordinary.”
Proud father Magnus told Stan Sport that his daughter’s passion was cyclo-cross and she has signed her first pro deal with USA team EF Education–Tibco–SVB.
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“She can win anything and everything she wants,” Olympic gold medallist Scott McGrory said.
“She’s so far ahead of everyone, she comes from a cycling family and she’s going to be a professional next year. She’s an absolute superstar of the future.
“She may have signed her contract too early. Zoe maybe could have held off until after this performance and got a bit of extra money in her pro contract.”
Former Australian champion Kate Bates described her demolition job as ”a momentous moment in time trial history.”
“To win by that margin – you know that emoji where the brain is exploding at the top?
“That’s how I felt watching that roll out. The first gold medal for Great Britain, the day after the (Queen’s) funeral. So in many ways it is a symbolic way to start a new era.”
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