British Cycling has announced the 15-strong squad selected to represent Great Britain in next week’s UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships, in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, from February 3-5.
The team includes a number of podium potential riders, including last year’s junior women’s rainbow jersey winner Zoe Bäckstedt, who will return to championships to vie for the 2023 under-23 women’s world title.
In the women’s events, Anna Kay will be the team’s sole representative in the elite women’s category, having delivered top 10 world cup finishes throughout the season.
The women’s under-23 team will include Zoe Bäckstedt who will be competing in the category for the first time, after taking home the junior women’s title last year. She was recently crowned elite and under-23 women’s national champion and took a fourth-place finish in the Boxing Day world cup round in Gavere, Belgium.
She will be joined in the women’s under-23 category by Ella Maclean Howell, who took third place in the elite women’s category at the national championships, and world championships debutant, Millie Couzens.
Representing the junior women will be debutants Cat Ferguson, Elizabeth McKinnon, Emily Carrick-Anderson and junior women’s national champion Imogen Wolff.
After a fierce victory at the recent national championships, Cameron Mason will head to Hoogerheide to take on the elite men’s race for the first time. The young rider has had an incredible breakout season in his first year competing in the elite men’s category, with many top 10 world cup finishes and a fourth place at Loenhout during an impressive run of results. Thomas Mein will join him in the elite men’s category after a consistent season which has seen a number of top 10 finishes, with sixth place at Loenhout being a standout.
Joe Blackmore, who took the second step on the national championships elite men’s podium, will contest the men’s under-23 race and he will be joined on the start line by debutant Corran Carrick-Anderson.
The junior men’s squad will be headed up by national champion Sebastian Grindley, who will be joined by Oli Akers and Alfie Amey.
Great Britain will also be fielding a team for the team relay event on Friday, February 3, which will see the first time the event is given full world championship status, with the opportunity for the winning team of six to take home those coveted rainbow stripes. The squad will be selected closer to the event, with a commitment to putting the strongest squad forward for contention of a spot on the podium.
Great Britain Cycling Team Performance Director, Stephen Park CBE, said: “We are gearing up for yet another incredibly exciting cyclo-cross world championships and I’m delighted that Great Britain will be represented by such a strong squad, with some serious contenders included.
“To see riders such as Zoe Bäckstedt have such an impressive 2022 season and build in confidence which is reflected in her most recent world cup results in her first senior season, shows just how much more this young rider has to give. It will be very exciting to see her return to the world championships in a new category, keen to show her abilities in a more experienced field.
“Elsewhere in the team, we have a range of experience from well-seasoned riders to debutants and this is a real testament to the talent teams and coaching staff that work hard to develop and support these riders to achieving their full potential.”
Matt Ellis, Great Britain Cycling Team Cyclo-cross Co-ordinator, added: “It’s incredibly exciting to be able to support 15 riders to compete in a world championships. With the range of experience we have within the team, this event will provide invaluable experience for our younger riders. While we have a number of riders who have been working hard and are ready to show what they’re truly capable of on the world’s stage, hopefully culminating in that coveted rainbow jersey. It will definitely be an event not to miss!”
Women’s under-23 rider, Zoe Bäckstedt, said: “I’m really looking forward to the cyclocross world championships in Hoogerheide and can’t wait to pull on national kit again and represent my country at U23 level. It was amazing to take the national title recently in Westmoreland and it’s definitely given me confidence going in to Worlds. I don’t yet know who I’ll be racing against and who will step up to elite but I’ll race whoever lines up next to me and give it my all.”
Updates of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships will be available on the UCI race hub, and the women’s and men’s elite races will also be shown across the BBC on iPlayer and the Red Button (subject to availability).
The full Great Britain Cycling Team squad for the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships 2023:
Header image: Credit: Thomas Mein of Hope Factory Racing during the Elite Men’s race 2023 British National Cyclo-cross Championships – Westmorland County Showground, Cumbria, England. Credit: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com