Cyclocross rider Manon Bakker was recently fired by her team Experza CX Pro Team.
Bakker had a fifth-place finish in the U23 Women’s race at the World Championships.
The Dutch U23 racer was fired because of an equipment choice she made at those same Worlds.
“Bakker didn’t ride with the cycling gear of the sponsor on the World Championships,” team manager Christel Herremans said, according to Sporza. “She used other wheels and tubes. That, on the most important day of the year. The sponsor was not happy. Bakker didn’t ask or say anything beforehand. Also afterward she didn’t tell us anything. If she would ride for place 10 to 15, that would have been noticed less. But Bakker was a candidate for the World Title. It’s a sad situation. She is and stays a good rider. But that’s not a reason to allow yourself more than someone else. A good rider has to set the example.” (translated)
The Experza team typically rides Miche SWR CX tubular wheels and Challenge Tires tubulars.
Bakker instead opted for DT Swiss RC 38T wheels and what appears to be Dugast Typhoon tubulars. List weight of the DT Swiss wheels are 160g lighter than the Miche model, but it’s unclear if that’s the reason for her equipment swap.
Team manager Herremans also mentioned that it wasn’t the first time there were issues and that it’s not always that easy to work with Bakker. Confronted with that, Bakker replied “I’m Dutch, I always say my truth. Maybe not everybody appreciates that.” (translated)
Bakker took to social media to announce her departure and thank her team for past years.
Bakker had a strong start to her season in the U.S. with an official second-place on Friday night at Jingle Cross, although by the line it looked like she had taken the win.
Bakker is not done for the season however, and will ride in a black outfit for the remaining cyclocross races. “I don’t want to say much about this,” she said. “I’m focused on the next races. Because of this situation, I’m motivated even more for the races of this weekend”, Bakker said. (translated)
Rider equipment choices conflicting with sponsors’ products have happened in the past, and will happen again. Tires and wheels seem to be the most common area of conflict. The late Amy Dombroski and Richard Sachs parted ways after a similar disagreement in equipment, Ellen Noble won Nationals in Asheville on non-sponsor tires, and Kerry Werner and the Maxxis-sponsored team of Kona-Maxxis-Shimano would often roll on non-Maxxis tubulars on muddy days.