Talkingshop: Magnus Backstedt Retires


Grand Tour stage & Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt retires from cycle racing to concentrate on Triathlon

Last Thursday in Canary Wharf, a winner of the biggest single day classic in the World, who has graced British domestic races for a few years now, retired Magnus Backstedt (MG Maxifuel).


The sport domestically rarely gets such a world star competing in in the racing here but adopted Welshman Magnus has certainly had an impact in the British racing scene. This year, Magnus has also been competing in Triathlon and it’s for this reason he is retiring from the cycle racing to concentrate on three disciplines instead of one. “I really want to do that and it’s something I have thought of for a long time” he explains. “I feel I need to give it hundred percent and with bike racing, I’ve been there, done that and ended up with the t-shirt.”

“It has been good to come back and have the opportunity to be part of building up Team UK Youth and MG Maxifuel and putting something back into the sport at a slightly lower level. I see myself as having had a very nice career and the added couple of years have been interesting in so many different ways.”

Looking to the future, and asked what are his goals in Triathlon, Magnus replied “goal is qualify for the ironman in Hawaii in 2014. My first full distance ironman will be on the 17th of August in Sweden (Magnus is Swedish) and I’m going into that a little blind.”


You sense talking to Magnus that there is a little disappointment that he hasn’t set the Tour Series on fire. “I did all the training I could coming into the Tour Series but unfortunately I am not quite on top of it. Maybe that’s because of the running I did until six weeks before the Tour Series started.”

“Crit riding though is a completely different effort to others on the road. Apart from climbing, I have been a very all-round rider throughout my career whether its lead outs, sprinting or being on the front in the classics.”

“Those efforts are more raw grunt horsepower type of efforts and those sprints I was up in, were those high speed ones where you need an awful lot of power to get yourself moving through the wind.”

Whilst the results may not have been outstanding for Magnus in the Tour Series, other riders I have spoken to have said he’s been hurting a lot of legs when that raw power is unleashed at the front and he certainly spent some time at the front in his final race at Canary Wharf. But why that event to retire at?

It’s an awesome venue” says Magnus. “So it’s nice to do my last race at a venue like this and in the Tour Series. I have a lot of respect for Mick (Bennett) and what he has done with the Tour Series and the Tour of Britain. “I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me to say goodbye to the cycling world as a bike racer. I will still be involved in the sport and mentoring the guys we have in MG Maxifuel.”

Looking back at his career, besides the much talked about win in Paris Roubaix which was massive for Magnus and fans of the sport, he has won much more. “I won stages in the Tour de France and Giro and was national champion in both road and time trial and the list goes on. 2nd Gent -Wevelgem, 2nd Stage 7 Tour de France, 1st GP D’Isbergues, 3rd Overall Tour Down Under, 1st GP Fayt le Franc and many more!

“I didn’t win a lot of races but I did manage to bag a few good ones and if you had told me in January 1996 when I moved to Belgium and told me I was going to have the results I have now, I would have recommended they lock you up! I have been very fortunate and worked incredibly hard and sacrificed a lot but managed to get something back out of it.”

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Asked what memories stand out from being in the pro peloton, he replies “I made a lot of good friends and still think that the time I had when Stuart O’Grady and I were racing together at Credit Agricole and Gan as special. The way we worked together was unique, we had a sixth sense like when I’d lead him out in sprints, it was something incredible that two people from two different sides of the world could link up so well and understand each other so well.”

“I spoke to Stuey a few days after I won Paris-Roubiax and he was absolutely ecstatic at me winning it and it was the same for me when he won it. It was great to see because I knew how much he wanted that one.”

“When I rode with Liquigas and rode with Franceso Chicci, he was struggling with his sprint but I managed to get him to a point where he trusted me for his lead outs and I delivered him and I remember a specific race in Denmark where he won I think two stages against Cav in the end and it’s because we got him his confidence and got him to trust me as well.”

“We still have a close friendship and when ever we see each other, it’s like the last time was yesterday. These things are very special.”

Asked how he hasn’t ended up as a Sporting Director when he can read races and see things in a race that few can, he replies “there wasn’t really a position for me when I hung up the wheels at the top level racing. Not one that I really thought this position is perfect for me and that hasn’t come along yet”

“If it does, then I’d be more than happy to be a director sportif or what ever role ends up being the right one for me. It would have to be the right team with the right people around me because it is too high a pressure of a job to not have that special connection with the guys you are working with. Those opportunities don’t grow on trees either”.

Magnus, from Sweden, has spent almost ten years in Wales now with wife Megan and their daughters and it’s been very special for him. “I moved to Wales a week after the win in Roubaix” he explained. “We lived in Belgium for three years and France for two years but when we had our second daughter we wanted to be somewhere where they could have some back up”.

“The two choices were Sweden or Wales and because of the shorter travelling to Europe, we chose Wales. The training in Wales is awesome, the people are great to deal with and I feel like I have been adopted not only in Wales but also in Britain. It’s a special feeling to have that.”

And whilst Magnus has hung up his racing wheels, there is a Backstedt we see in the results regularly, his daughter Elynor Backstedt of Maindy Flyers. Magnus explained his 11 year old has her goals already and thats the Olympics.

“She watched the girls in London and said ‘dad I am going to do that, I can’t do it at the next one but I’ll do it at the one after”.

“She’s just 11 and who knows where she will go but right now, she is loving her bike riding and wants to go training and racing all the time. And she is good at it. I have seen a few bike riders in my time and it is more natural for her to be on two wheels than it is to walk”.

“We have both said as long as the kids do a sport and are heavily involved we don’t mind what it is as long as they live an active lifestyle and are fit and healthy. That’s the most important thing.”

I then left Magnus to get ready for his last race where former riders like Roger Hammond came up for a hug and wished him well. It was an emotional time and he will be missed in the peloton” thanks for the memories Magnus!


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