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Cycling

Elynor Backstedt closing in on return after breaking leg during lockdown

Elynor Backstedt will get a second chance at a debut WorldTour season in 2021 as she nears a return from the broken leg which effectively wiped out the first.

The 19-year-old signed for Trek-Segafredo last winter but managed only two one-day races before lockdown put the season on hold.

And it was during lockdown that a family mountain bike ride in south Wales ended in the devastating injury for Backstedt in May, ruling her out of racing once the season resumed.

It took until October for Pontypridd-born Backstedt to get back on her bike in any form, and even now – as she joins team-mates at a pre-season camp in Alicante, Spain – she is still feeling the affects of the injury.

“My fitness is definitely still low,” Backstedt told the PA news agency. “I didn’t get back on my bike until October and couldn’t start training properly until November.

“My power is not as bad as I thought, I just lost five months of fitness.”

It was the second time Backstedt had broken the same leg, the first time coming some five years earlier.

After the crash Backstedt spent six weeks unable to move off the sofa unaided, watching with no small degree of envy as the cycling world got back into action in August.

Backstedt claimed a bronze medal in the Women's Junior Individual Time Trial in 2019. Credit: PA

But Backstedt is not one to sulk and was all smiles on social media even as she went through a “really tough” period.

“It took a long time to accept my leg was broken,” she said. “Even though the smallest movement brought excruciating pain, it took a long time to realise it was going to be like this for the next few months and I need to suck it up.

“But I like to be happy, and I was happy. I was with my family and my dogs and my boyfriend and I was enjoying myself even though I was in a lot of pain.

“It was difficult. It would be difficult for anyone. But I knew I would be back doing what I love, I would be back with the team one day.

“The hardest part for me was not knowing how long it would take to recover but it was really just trying to see the positives in the situation, to take it step-by-step and to see the small improvements.”

Backstedt has not pinned on a race number since Le Samyn des Dames in Belgium on March 3 last year, and is not yet sure when she will next do so.

“I hope it will be soon, but health comes first,” she said. “The team have been really great with that. I’m young. I’ve done this twice and we don’t want there to be a third time.

“We really want me to be back strong and ready and not just thrown in at the deep end. It might be soon, it might be the spring classics or it might be later.

“I haven’t raced in a long time and I want to be back in the bunch doing what I love.

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Cycling