The United States won their first World Championships medal in the junior women’s road race on Saturday morning, teenager Kaia Schmid taking silver after sprinting for victory over Briton Zoe Bäckstedt.
The 18-year-old followed an attack from Bäckstedt with 30 kilometers to go in the 75-kilometer race, staying on the sidelines to contest the finish after five laps of the difficult and hilly Leuven circuit.
Speaking after the race, Schmid said she believed her best chance at winning was from a tuck sprint, but that she could never have let Bäckstedt, who thwarted a grabbed move from a British teammate, go alone given his time-tested prowess.
“So I think my best chance of winning today was going to come down to a massive sprint,” said Schmid. “I know Zoe is really strong in time trials so if I had to attack she was just going to sit on my wheel like I did when she attacked.
“Obviously I came here to win today’s race so not achieving that goal is a bit of a disappointment, especially when you were really close. At the track world championships I knew I was challenging the best girls. around the world, so I came here knowing I could claim the win. But I was always second and being on the podium at the World Championships is a good day. “
Schmid has had an unforgettable season at the junior level, relishing success at the Rás na mBan in Ireland, winning gold in the Elimination Race at the World Junior Track Championships in Cairo and finishing second in the Junior Road Race at the National Championships. the United States.
Multidisciplinary, she has practiced cyclo-cross in the past and has also converted from another sport, freestyle skiing. She said her goal in the future was to focus on road cycling and rise to the top of the sport.
“I have been skiing for many years,” she said. “My roots are also in skiing but ultimately I want to be on the bike and that’s the direction I’m going. I would think of myself as a climbing sprinter on the bike, as I like to say.
“At the end of the day, I want to be on the road and get as far as I can – the WorldTour, the Olympics, the elite world championships.”
While some Scandinavian cyclists are known to use cross-country skiing for winter training and Vuelta a España champion Primož Roglič was a ski jumper, Schmid’s discipline was very different, although she said that certain skills intersect between the two sports.
“Skiing is a lot different because you do flips and stuff and you definitely don’t flip on the bike – well, maybe,” she joked.
“But I think it trained me well because I always go to the mountains to do a jump and I gained stamina because of it. It’s definitely technical, and I learned things that I can apply. to road racing. “