What a week of racing!
Check out our race-by-race summary below to catch up on what has been a compelling start to life in the virtual world for the Six Day Series. To re-watch any of the races click here.
In the first event of the Six Day Virtual Series, Elynor Bäckstedt powered to victory in the 3-lap Time Trial. Elynor recorded a time of 55.70s showing she’s lost none of her strength off the back of a serious injury sustained last season. The 19-year-old Welsh cyclist held her form impressively through to the line securing herself top spot and the full 10 points.
Finishing only 00.29s behind, sister Zoe Bäckstedt came in a close 2nd with Scotland’s Neah Evans managing a time of 57.30s to round out the top three.
After the win, Bäckstedt commented, ‘That was horrible! That’s the hardest I’ve gone in a long time…since my crash. I just went as hard as I could and was very surprised I came out fastest to be honest!’
Not to be outdone by her older sister, 16-year-old Zoe Bäckstedt showed her racing nous with a smart break off the front with 16 of the 30 laps remaining. Once the gap had been established there was no way back for the chasing pack as the young rider from Wales crossed the line comfortably ahead of her rivals.
Elynor Bäckstedt finished 3rd having battled hard against a fast-finishing Elinor Barker but eventually succumbed to the Olympic Champion who claimed 2nd place on the line. With that result, Barker put good points on the board to boost her tally after a disappointing start in the Time Trial where she finished 4th.
Six Day Series commentator Scott McGrory remarked on Zoe’s ride, ‘what a fight that was and it was close at the end, they were really coming towards her…look at the effort, that really hurt, that was a tough one. That was a huge performance from Zoe and well-deserved.’
At the halfway stage, it was the Bäckstedt sisters that reigned supreme; younger sister Zoe on 18 points at the top of the table and Elynor slightly behind in 2nd place on 16 points.
A test of strength and racing tactics, the Elimination Race is known to cause some big upsets in six day competitions.
Abi Smith, having initially gone out hard paid the ultimate price as she became the first rider to be eliminated. However, the biggest surprise of the night was Elinor Barker’s quick elimination following Smith’s, delivering a big dent to her title hopes and leaving her in 4th place overall. Next to fall was Megan Barker who missed out to Neah Evans, however, the Scot’s safety was short-lived as she could not keep up with the impressive Bäckstedt pairing and had to settle for 3rd.
Competing in the same living room at their family home, the sisters took their time before an explosive final lap saw younger sibling Zoe clinch victory and extend her overall lead.
Both riders went deep into the red as they exercised their sibling rivalry. Still catching her breath, Zoe told presenter Rebecca Charlton, ‘that was one of the hardest Elimination Races I’ve done in a long time…you had to work so hard to stay near the front’.
In a discipline where Elinor Barker has made her name, the current World Champion needed a stellar performance and close to maximum points to stake a claim for victory.
Flying out of the blocks, Elynor Bäckstedt was in fine form winning four of the first five sprints, catapulting her over Zoe and regaining the lead in the general classification. The relentless pace took its toll however, as both Megan Barker and Neah Evans lost a lap on laps 15 and 26 respectively.
As Bäckstedt began to tire, the race was left open for others to improve their position on the leaderboard. Abi Smith claimed two impressive back-to-back sprints moving her up into 3rd place with Elinor Barker calling on all her experience and scoring consistently to sit in 2nd before the final sprint.
Crucially, Megan Barker and Zoe Bäckstedt lost a lap each in the final 6 laps of the race, costing Zoe a spot on the podium.
With double points on offer, there was no let up for the final lap. A tight scramble for the line saw Elynor Bäckstedt take the win over Elinor Barker and overall victory in the series.
Barker shared her thoughts after the race, ‘it’s really hard to gauge, you can’t see each other and you can’t see each other’s speeds, you just have to go flat out every single time. That last one I think there was quite a lot of lactic in the legs and everyone was just going flat out!’
On virtual racing, the 26-year old commented, ‘obviously we’d absolutely love to be in a velodrome and we all really miss that racing experience we get from Six Day every year but this is the next best thing, so really, really grateful to be able to do this.’