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Magnus (Maggy) Backstedt swung by Zipp's hometown of Indianapolis, so we grabbed our recorder to catch up with the big Swede. As we talked with him in his camper, his daughter, Zoe, rode training laps on the cyclocross course outside. The two are part of the powerhouse CANYON//SRAM Racing team, dad as director sporfit and daughter rider.

Maggy—at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds—was a huge presence in the pro peloton in the early 2000s. In this fun interview, he recalls his momentous victory at the 2004 Paris-Roubaix and his early experimentation with wider tires and carbon wheels at Roubaix. Like Zipp, he was ahead of his time. Maggy, in 2008, was part of Zipp's determined drive to develop a carbon wheel tough enough to win on the cobblestones of Roubaix. He gives all the details. At the end of the podcast, Maggy reveals his jaw-dropping power numbers. Below are edited excerpts, but you won't want to miss this episode:


The Zippcast · Magnus "Maggy" Backstedt, 2004 Roubaix champ & CANYON//SRAM director

It must be special for your daughter, Zoe, to be on the team where you're a sports director.

It is pretty special. She came to the team on September 1. It is cool we could make that happen so she could start cyclocross on the right equipment for the whole cyclocross reason.

Zoe's excelled at multiple cycling disciplines. Where do you see her focus for the coming year?

Cyclocross has always been her big love in cycling. I don't that is going to change anytime soon. But she does love racing the road as well. They kind of go hand-in-hand, especially when you start looking at the best cyclocross riders now—they come with a big road calendar in their legs already. To actually be performing at the absolute highest level in cyclocross, you need a decent amount of road racing at a very high level to have the endurance and power to go a full 50 minutes for the women in a cyclocross race. … As long as she's having fun, she tends to go very quick on the bike. … It's a mental recovery, switching disciplines, switching bikes.

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Zoe and Chloe Dygert will probably have fun as two native English speakers who can put down some big watts.

Zoe's always looked up to Chloe and always looked at the times she's been doing on the velodrome, like the 2km individual pursuit as a junior. That is what she was chasing after. We're only a month into being with the team, and there's already that friendly rivalry and a bit of competition between the two. When you get two athletes who can push each other, that can only be good in the long term.

As a professional rider yourself, your most prominent achievement was winning the 2004 Paris-Roubaix.

Yes, that will always stay with me as the biggest day on a bike in my life.

What was your mindset that day?

I woke up that morning, and I felt that there was something different. There was that kind of vibe in the air. I just felt everything was right…. When we got to the start, Rolf Sorenson, who was my agent at the time, came up to me and said, 'My dad is a betting man. Who should he put his money onto?" And I said me. Rolf said, 'What, to win?' He was almost taken aback by it. We got racing, and I could feel that everything was just—I didn't touch the pedals for the first 200 kilometers. It was just something completely different.

Magnus still loves the bike.

If I'm going to win this, I need to go with the approach that I've had in the past, and that was test and find something that works for me and not for everybody else.

–Magnus Backstedt

Did you have a strategy for the final sprint?

Because I felt good, I wanted to open up the spint on the backstraight. I put myself in third wheel, and as I launched my spring and I started diving down the velodrome, Roger (Hammond) had exactly the same thought. We lived together for two or three years. … He managed to block me onto the inside of the velodrome. For some reason, I didn't panic… I just wanted for Fabian to start moving up the track a little bit. As were coming out of the final turn, there was enough space for me to come through the inside.

One of the things the fans liked about you is you let the tears flow when you won. You're an emotional rider.

For sure, cycling is that sport, isn't it? It is emotional. You have the highs and the lows and the hardship that comes with it. You get those moments; you can't hold all those feelings back.

Are you the largest rider to win Paris-Roubaix in 200?

Height-wise, there have been a few other riders who are similar in height or taller. Weight-wise, I'm the heaviest, 96kg (about 205 pounds).

What width tires did you ride in that Paris-Roubaix?


Magnus is a director with CANYON//SRAM Racing

That was a wide tire for those days.

I took a small van to the Forest of Arenberg and rode up and down it, up and down it, for days on end, just testing materials: testing tires, testing pressures, wheels, handlebars, forks. I punctured quite a few 24mm, and I though let's try a couple of mm wider.

Late in your career, in 2008, you rode for Garmin-Chipotle and tested Zipp carbon wheels at Roubaix. This was early when Zipp pledged to be the first carbon wheel maker to win at Roubaix (which we did in 2010). But you were part of the development effort that ultimately changed how riders won Roubaix.

The cool thing was that tested, and tested, and tested that year and could not make those wheels break. I new there was one section on the Forest of Arenberg that I could not hit. The cobbles were just too rough and positioned in a funny way. Of course, what happened was I get squeezed over there and we're doing 70kph. I hit it at 10km per hour more than I had anticipated. I hit the wrong side of it, and that was that.

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At that point, probably the rest of the pack was riding aluminum wheels.

Everybody called me an absolutely crazy so and so for turning up with carbon wheels! And now no one would show up without (cabon wheels)! 

You raced before power meters were used as widely as they are now. But given your size and sprinting power, what were your power numbers?

Being that size, obviously you have to stomp out some pretty big numbers. My 20-minute PB was 560 watts, something in that ballpark. The shorter time-frame numbers are the more impressive ones: I have a PB of 1,100 watts for a minute, and I did 2,025 watts after 200km of bike racing in a sprint. Those numbers are big!

My 20-minute PB was 560 watts, something in that ballpark. The shorter time-frame numbers are the more impressive ones: I have a PB of 1,100 watts for a minute, and I did 2,025 watts after 200km of bike racing in a sprint. Those numbers are big!

–Magnus Backstedt

Photos © @brazodehierro, @bethduryea, @spennyaf and @ThomasMaheux