Zoe Bäckstedt Dominates at Gullegem, Alvarado Withdraws with Back Pain

Zoe Bäckstedt has clinched victory at the Hexi Cross Gullegem (C2), showcasing her prowess in a decisive solo effort. The 19-year-old Brit was initially accompanied by Manon Bakker and Inge van der Heijden of Crelan-Corendon. Still, it took a game-changing move in the penultimate lap, distancing herself from the duo.

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, the race favourite, withdrew during the event due to back pain, despite being a strong contender in the absence of Fem van Empel, Lucinda Brand, and Puck Pieterse. Alvarado had started strong, initially trailing behind Bäckstedt and Marion Norbert Riberolle but later took the lead. Despite her efforts, she was unable to bridge the gap to the front trio and ultimately decided to step out of the race while in fifth position.

Bäckstedt, relishing the muddy conditions, shared her enjoyment of the race, saying, “This was probably one of the funniest races I’ve competed in. Why? I’m covered in mud from head to toe, that’s what I love.” Her decisive move in the penultimate lap caught her rivals off guard, and she managed to maintain her lead until the end, marking her third professional win of the season.

Zoe Backstedt
Photo Credit: Cor Vos

Manon Bakker, who finished second, acknowledged Bäckstedt’s strength, stating that she was perhaps too slow to react to Bäckstedt’s acceleration. Inge van der Heijden, securing third place, was content with her performance on a challenging course that didn’t particularly suit her style.

Alvarado, in light of her withdrawal, will also miss the upcoming World Cup in Zonhoven. She currently leads the World Cup standings but will be sitting out to recover from her back issues, particularly with the upcoming National Championships in mind. Despite her setback, Alvarado remains a strong leader in the World Cup standings, with Lucinda Brand being her closest competitor.

Gullegem 2024 Women result

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Main photo credit: Cor Vos