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American Kaia Schmid: ‘Any day on a worlds podium is a good day’ 

Silver medal is bittersweet for Lux's successful junior racer.

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LEUVEN, Belgium (VN) — Close, but no jersey.

After standing on the top step of podiums recently in Egypt for the junior track worlds and in Ireland for Rás na mBan, teenage American Kaia Schmid climbed onto the second step at the junior road worlds in Leuven Belgium on Saturday. She was disappointed to have narrowly missed out on the rainbow jersey, but happy with her effort.

Also read: Zoe Backstedt outsprints the American Kaia Schmid in tense junior women’s road race

Schmid followed an attack by Zoe Backstedt, who was countering a move by a teammate, with about 30km go in the 75km race that consisted of five laps on a winding Leuven circuit.

“There was a GB girl up the road, and as soon as we brought her back, right then, Zoe went,” Schmid said. “I knew she was someone we could not let go, since she is such a strong time trialist. We worked well together, communicated a lot, got a good gap and were able to stay away.”

Backstedt, daughter of former pro Magnus Backstedt, had taken the silver medal in the junior time trial earlier in the week.

Backstedt in the rainbow jersey, flanked by Schmid and Linda Riedmann.
(Photo: Casey B. Gibson)

The pair had about a minute gap to a chase group behind, which contained Makayla MacPherson, Schmid’s teammate both on Team USA and the junior development Lux Cycling squad.

The Leuven circuit has a few kickers that can act as springboards for attacks, but Schmid said she was content to wait for the sprint.

“I did not want to waste my energy trying to get away [from Backstedt],” Schmid said. “The sprint definitely did not play to my strengths because it was slightly downhill, and I am tiny. But I was really comfortable riding with Zoe.” 

Team USA’s plan for its four riders coming into the race was to get Schmid and/or MacPherson in a break or set up for a sprint.

With Schmid in the two-up break and MacPherson in the chase group behind, Team USA was well positioned. Backstedt just had the better sprint on the day for the win, and MacPherson placed fifth from the chase behind.

MacPherson had also won at stage at Rás na mBan, racing with Schmid.

“We race all season together for Lux, and know each others’ strengths and weakness. That helps coming into today,” Schmid said. “Makayla and I have both had a lot of  opportunities to be on the podium. We have been going back and forth all year.

“It was awesome to have two of us in the top five. Obviously we wanted to come home with the rainbow stripes,” said Schmid. “But any day on a podium at worlds is a good day.”