A Welshwoman and a Swede walk up to each other at an Australian criterium. Sounds like the start of a bad cycling joke, doesn’t it? There’s certainly been a lot of laughter in the intervening 25 years for champion cyclists Megan Hughes and Magnus Bäckstedt. After love at first sight, they moved in together in Belgium within months and got married.
Magnus went on to win Paris-Roubaix, while Megan curtailed her career and raised their daughters. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Via a lot of miles in the motorhome from their Welsh home and medals galore, 21-year-old Elynor and 18-year-old Zoe race in the WorldTour for Trek-Segafredo and EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, respectively.
While the genes fit, it’s a triumph of drive and dedication. Elynor was third in the junior World Championship time trial and has combatted injury misfortune in her nascent career. Meanwhile, multi-faceted Zoe has dominated the junior scene, taking five world titles across road, track and cyclocross. Make no mistake; the Bäckstedts are a modern cycling dynasty.
Over four individual interviews with Cyclingnews, the charismatic family talks about their respective careers in the saddle, the 2023 three-way “rivalry” on different WorldTour teams and family life – which means intensely competitive Yahtzee games and setting up a cyclo-cross course around the house.
Cyclingnews: How did you get into cycling?
Megan: It was at Maindy velodrome [in Wales] a long time ago. It transpired I was quite good, enjoyed it and progressed forward. I liked the competitiveness, I think. I got into the WCRA (Women’s Cycle Racing Association), and they were taking us abroad. That was brilliant and gave me a load of opportunities, and then I was with British Cycling from there on.
Magnus: It was 1987, and I’d been riding my bike for two weeks. My friend from downhill skiing told me about this regional TT in Motala, about 40 kilometres away. I had absolutely no idea: I took my running shoes, went for a five-kilometre run to warm up and smashed it. I won my first-ever bike race and obviously got hooked from then on.
Elynor: I was probably about four. My granddad has videos of it. It was at Carmarthen Velodrome and might have been a scratch race on road bikes. I just stopped at the finish line; [now Team Coop-Hitec Products pro] Jess Roberts was there, and I nearly took her out! She had to swerve around me.
Zoe: I don’t remember my first race, but I always kept myself busy doing…
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