Manon Bakker has been a beacon of consistency this season, appearing in an impressive fourteen cyclocross races. Her recent performances in Belgium, achieving fourth at Niel and fifth in Dendermonde, have edged her tantalisingly close to podium finishes. Speaking to WielerFlits, Bakker acknowledges a season beset by misfortune, referencing a puncture that likely cost her a higher place in the Jaarmarktcross. In spite of riding with a palpable sense of confidence, Bakker admits to making too many minor errors that have impeded her results.
Unrelenting Competitive Spirit
Bakker’s racing frequency mirrors her tenacious spirit, a trait that few of her peers can match. She details a purposeful strategy to engage in numerous races as a means to compensate for a typically less-than-ideal transition from the road season. Reflecting candidly, she concedes that despite her efforts, the outcomes have not entirely met her expectations, as she aimed to outdo her previous season’s performances.
Nevertheless, the early part of the season saw Bakker secure some commendable results, particularly in America, and upon her return to the Netherlands, with a second place in Woerden and victory in Heerde. However, recent weeks have been marred with mechanical issues and punctures, reminding her that the path to success in cyclocross is often fraught with unpredictability.
Eyeing the Podium
Despite these challenges, the Crelan-Corendon team member remains focused on ascending to the podium. She reveals a personal trend of hitting peak form in the late season, around January and February, but harbours hopes for an earlier surge this time around. Bakker’s optimism is undimmed, as she does not feel fatigued by the competition.
Bakker’s preference for technically demanding courses is clear, expressing a distaste for power-centric races like the one encountered at the European Championships in Pontchâteau. She eagerly anticipates the upcoming races in Dublin and Val di Sole, where her technical prowess has previously shone through, highlighted by her podium finish in Val di Sole the previous year.
Main photo credit: Bart Hazen