Manon Bakker leads from start to finish in Cyclocross Heerderstrand, Vandeputte wins mens race


Dutch cyclocross racer Manon Bakker claimed victory at the Cyclocross Heerderstrand in what was essentially a ‘half-home’ race for her. From the get-go, Bakker emerged as the race favourite, partially due to her coach’s role as the event organiser of the newly introduced C2 cyclocross race in Heerde. Although Lauren Molengraaf initially led the field along with Puck Langenbarg, Bakker quickly overtook command. Riding for Crelan-Corendon, Bakker accelerated the pace and soon built a considerable lead.

As the race unfolded, it was clear that no one could match Bakker’s tempo. The real battle unfolded behind her between Molengraaf and Femke Gort, who were more than 20 seconds adrift after a few laps. Eventually, Molengraaf managed to outpace Gort, securing second place – yet still a considerable distance behind Bakker.

For Bakker, this win marks her first of the season, although she has already made multiple appearances in the top-3. After the race, Bakker shared her delight about the well-designed course and the proximity to her home. She said she couldn’t refuse when her coach, Bert-Jan Hamer, asked her to participate. Bakker also mentioned that her season had started strongly, citing her good performance in the United States and outlining her ambitions to climb into the UCI top-5 rankings with an eye towards the European Championships.

Niels Vandeputte
Niels Vandeputte
Photo credit: Bart Hazen

In the men’s race Niels Vandeputte took the honours ahead of Jens Dekker. The Belgian rider from Alpecin-Deceuninck broke away early, successfully maintaining his solo lead until the finish line. Jens Dekker came in second place, while Kay De Bruyckere rounded out the podium in third.

While the competition was absent of cycling’s most notable names, Vandeputte’s participation had been highly anticipated. Initially, the main challenge was expected to come from Jens Dekker, the comeback kid, and David Haverdings. The early pace in the inaugural lap was set by BEAT Cycling’s Lucas Janssen. David Haverdings took over momentarily, but a discernible gap wasn’t established until the second lap. At that point, Yordi Corsus of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal and Janssen formed a small breakaway, which was quickly neutralised by Vandeputte.

By the third lap, Vandeputte had initiated his solo escapade, building a lead of 17 seconds by the fourth lap over a chasing group that included Janssen, Corsus, and De Bruyckere. Jens Dekker, who had a sluggish start, clawed his way back to join this group in the fifth lap, accompanied by his teammate Danny van Lierop, and Julian Siemons. However, as the race unfolded, the chasers progressively lost ground to Vandeputte.

In the end, it was evident that Vandeputte was uncatchable. Although Jens Dekker managed to separate himself from the rest of the pursuers, he had to settle for a distant second place, trailing Vandeputte. Completing the podium was Kay De Bruyckere in third position.

2023 Cyclocross Heerdestrand Women result

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2023 Cyclocross Heerdestrand Men result

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Main photo credit: Bart Hazen