The former Belgian road cyclist, now a nutritionist for Van Aert’s Jumbo-Visma, is ready to take on the Appenninica MTB Stage Race (4-10 September) ten years after her Olympic adventure in London. “I’m looking for a challenge to push my limits”

The reigning queen, Naima Diesner, has cited her as a rival to keep an eye on, but Maaike Polspoel swears that she does not think about the Appenninica MTB Stage Race final victory. Whether the Belgian is bluffing or not, will be discovered as of 4 September 2022, when the Emilia-Romagna Apennines will be the judges from the start in Castelnovo ne’ Monti.

Born in 1989, ten years ago the Belgian finished 29th in the Elite Women’s Road race at the 2012 London Olympics. Today she is preparing to experience Appenninica (4-10 September 2022) after returning to her first love, mountain biking.

Mountain biking was my first real love when it comes to cycling. As a little kid, I loved spending time in nature with my mountain bike. Before becoming a professional road cyclist, I was active as a biker in the international junior and U23 categories. I switched to road cycling after an injury during a World Cup cross-country race. However, the love for the mountain bike hasnever left me and after my career as a road cyclist, I picked up mountain biking again,” said Maaike Polspoel.

That’s why the decision to come to Emilia-Romagna for a mountain bike stage race thrilled her.

The Appenninica MTB Stage Race is unique. It will be very challenging and pushing limits will be needed. And that’s exactly what I’m looking for… Challenging and pushing my limits. And all this in an incredibly beautiful environment and wonderful nature. These are all the ingredients for an unforgettable experience” .

After finishing her career as a professional road racer, with stage win at the Profile Ladies Tour in 2011 and the Erondegemse Pijl in 2013 standing out as her best results, Maaike Polspoel has remained in the cycling world. Once finished her studies as a nutritionist, she has recently joined the Jumbo-Visma team of the last Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard and the fellow Belgian talent Wout Van Aert.

A well-balanced fueling and nutrition strategy is crucial to successfully finish a demanding stage race like Appenninica. The repetition of efforts, every stage demands a lot from your body, so you have to give it the energy to recover and to be fuelled for the next day. Carbohydrates play an important role in this, so Italian pasta will be welcome after each stage!”, the Belgian rider explained.

In spite of defending champion Naima Diesner picking her as one of the possible favourites for the overall victory, Maaike Polspoel prefers to shy away from the race for the overall win, but not without mentioning a name to watch out for.

“I don’t think I will be able to win this edition. It is the first time I will participate in the Appenninica, and it’s been a while since I have done some competition, so I will take it one day at a time and enjoy each stage. With her experience from last year, I think Naima has the best chance of winning again. I also expect a lot from Rozanne Slik, I know her from when she was a professional cyclist and expect that she will be at the start in excellent condition. In any case, I am looking forward to it,” Maaike Polspoel said. 

Whether it is just pretactics or not, the women’s race at Appenninica certainly promises to be exciting.