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Backstedt hopes to inspire in Abu Dhabi

Veteran cyclist preparing to compete in first triathlon at age of 38

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Swedish professional cyclist Magnus Backstedt — who won the Paris–Roubaix in 2004 and a Tour de France 1998 stage — has earmarked next month’s $230,000 (Dh844,789) Abu Dhabi International Triathlon for his global triathlon debut.

The 38-year-old eight-time Tour De France competitor hopes his participation in the March 2 event will be an inspiration to others, proving it’s never too late to try something new.

“I have always had this idea in the back of my mind that I was going to do a few triathlon competitions before I retired completely from top level sport. I now feel that this is the right time to make the move. After some testing and a few calculations, my coach and I thought it would be possible to get to a point where I would be competitive, at least in my age group. After that, who knows where I’ll end up,” said the 1.93m powerhouse.

“I would like to say that it’s never too late to make a change. If your mind is in it you can always achieve a goal. The important thing is to set realistic targets when you make the change and then build those targets as you get better.”

Magnus is one of 10 athletes invited to compete in the fourth Abu Dhabi event as part of organiser TCA Abu Dhabi’s competition to find the most inspirational stories in the sport.

The event is expected to attract more than 2,000 participants this year, including many of the world’s top athletes, such as 2012 Olympic gold medal winner Alistair Brownlee.