Zoe Backstedt Speeds Towards More Trophies in France


Zoe Backstedt will carry the flag for Welsh cycling again this weekend.

The multi-talented teenager will compete as part of the Great Britain team in the 2023 UEC Cyclo-cross European Championships.

The Welsh rider will be in Pont-Chateau, France, as part of an 11-strong mix of experienced and debutant riders, all vying to take a place on the podium to give an early boost to their cyclo-cross season.

After finishing fifth in last year’s under-23 event, and a first and second place in this year’s cyclo-cross World Cup rounds so far, 19-year-old Backstedt will be among the favourites for the under-23 women’s podium.

The Pontyclun teen struck cycling gold in September when she won the women’s U23 race at the European Road Cycling Championships in the Netherlands.

Matt Ellis, Cyclo-cross Co-ordinator for the Great Britain Cycling Team said: “With the cyclo-cross season now well underway, I’m excited to take such a strong team out to France to see what they can deliver on the European stage and use this opportunity to see how they’re performing so far in the season.

“It’s exciting to have such a mixed group to select from, with experienced riders such as Thomas Mein and Anna Kay alongside riders moving their way through the ranks and making their mark along the way, like Zoe Backstedt and Cat Ferguson.

“To be able to enter teams of such calibre, with well-seasoned pros and debutants experiencing their first European championships, shows the strength of talent coming through the pathways, as well as the impeccable coaching and support staff that work tirelessly to develop and support these riders to achieve their full potential.”



World champion Matt Richards heads five Welsh swimmers who have been invited on to British Swimming’s World Class Programme (WCP) for the 2023-2024 season.

With just over nine months to go until the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, world and Olympic gold medal winner Richards is joined by Daniel Jervis, Medi Harris, Tyler Melbourne-Smith and Hector Pardoe.

The season’s selections follow a spectacular summer in the pool for British swimmers, which saw eight medals – including two world titles – secured at the World Aquatics Championships, as well as a host of podium placings at the European Under-23 and Junior Championships, European Youth Olympic Festival and Commonwealth Youth Games.

Richards is among the gold medallists from this year’s World Championships on the Podium list, which also features Olympic finalist Jervis and 2022 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Harris.


Melbourne-Smith enjoyed a breakout season in 2023/23 and has been rewarded with a place on the Podium Potential programme after winning two gold medals at the Trinidad & Tobago Commonwealth Youth Games.

He is joined by open water specialist Pardoe, who was forced to withdraw from the open water event in Tokyo after being struck by another swimmer and injured during the race.

The athletes on the WCP – from multiple Olympic champions and world-record holders to potential Olympians of the future – are named off the back of a thorough selection process, including an in-depth assessment of their capability to be successful at future Olympics and World Championships.