Like father, like daughter at Paris-Roubaix? Maybe someday.
With rising star Elynor Bäckstedt (Trek-Segafredo), there’s the intriguing possibility that she could follow in her father’s footsteps — and pedal strokes — and someday win the women’s edition of Paris-Roubaix. Magnus Bäckstedt won the 2004 edition of Hell of the North.
There have been a few famous father-son combos across cycling’s history. Think Eddy Merckx and Axel. Or Davis Phinney and Taylor.
With the inaugural edition coming this spring, Bäckstedt is well aware of the historical possibility of becoming the first father-daughter winning combination in one of cycling’s most emblematic races.
“I would really like to win Paris-Roubaix,” she told VeloNews. “A father-daughter duo would be very special. I’m excited to race all the big classics.”
It likely won’t be this year.
Bäckstedt made the leap to the WorldTour last year at 18 with the powerful Trek-Segafredo team. After moving to Belgium and racing only two races before the lockdown, she broke her leg last May during a visit at home in Wales. She says she’s since recovered, and is looking ahead to a full racing season in 2021.
She’s expected to return to racing in March with Nokere Koerse, and other possible starts at De Panne and Scheldeprijs, but it’s likely her debut in the women’s Roubaix will have to wait at least until 2022.
The cycling DNA runs deep in Bäckstedt. Not only did her father win Roubaix, he also won a Tour de France stage during his decade-plus pro career. Her mother Megan Hughes is a former British national road champion.
With a big motor and fast finish, many expect Bäckstedt to develop into a classics-style racer in the next few years.
Though the women’s Paris-Roubaix was shelved last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the race is back on the calendar for April. Everyone in the women’s peloton is bubbling with excitement about racing on the famous cobbles.
“Having a women’s Roubaix is such a huge step forward for women’s racing,” she said. “I would absolutely love to win it. Having the men and women given the same chances is important, and this will be a huge opportunity for women’s cycling.”
Of course, Bäckstedt isn’t the only rider who wants to win the first edition of Roubaix. In fact, teammates such as Lizzie Deignan and Ellen Van Dijk could be first in line within the deep Trek-Segafredo lineup this spring.
“I feel blessed to do this at my age,” she said. “There are a lot of riders on this team that I really looked up to when I was younger rider. Nicole Cooke is another big role model. There are some really good people in women’s racing who’ve been an inspiration to young people like me who can dream to have this be their job.”
Though she also enjoyed success on the track, she’s opted to focus on the road rather than continue on the velodrome with a shot at the Olympics. With the Tokyo road course too challenging for her taste, she hopes to become an Olympian at some point in her career.
Her first challenge is to hone her riding skills and develop into a full-time pro.
Did dad give her any tips about racing on the cobbles?
“My parents never pushed me into becoming a cyclist,” she said. “They asked me to check that I was doing it for the right reasons, not just for the surname. It does come with downsides and pressure, but it also comes with its upside and bonuses. If I have giving it 100 percent, and they are happy.”