Jesse Vandenbulcke ready for Dwars door de Westhoek

Jesse Vandenbulcke

Jesse Vandenbulcke, the 28-year-old former Belgian champion, is entering Dwars door de Westhoek with renewed confidence after a series of recent national-level victories. Speaking to Het Nieuwsblad, Vandenbulcke shared her excitement and positive outlook following wins in Tervuren and Sint-Martens-Bodegem. “These are not the races with the strongest field of participants, but winning is winning. And it gives me a lot of confidence for the races that are coming up now,” she remarked.

Since switching to the De Ceuster-Bonache team, now renamed De Ceuster-Acrog, Vandenbulcke has found a new sense of enjoyment in racing. “I especially wanted to find the fun in racing again and I found that in my new environment,” she stated. The team’s focus has largely been on cyclocross, led by Laura Verdonschot, but they are also making strides on the road.

Jesse Vandenbulcke joined De Ceuster this year

Reflecting on her time with UCI teams, Vandenbulcke noted the difference in pressure and performance. “My attitude is different than when I rode for UCI teams. Then there was pressure on my shoulders and I didn’t really perform better because of it,” she explained. Now, with De Ceuster-Acrog, she feels more at ease. “Everything is allowed, nothing is required and that is how I function best,” she said.

Vandenbulcke’s recent form includes two victories and a commendable fourth place in a UCI race in Borsbeek last week. “I am expected to be able to finish it, but I am also very happy that the hard work of the other team members is being rewarded in that regard,” she mentioned, appreciating her teammates’ efforts.

As she prepares for Dwars door de Westhoek, Jesse Vandenbulcke aims to perform at her best. “I hope to give the best of myself again. When am I satisfied? If five of them drive away and I’m not there, that’s possible. But if a group of twenty riders escapes and I have to pass, I will be disappointed. But I can still handle races at this 1.1 level. There should be no doubt about that,” she asserted confidently.

Looking ahead, Vandenbulcke has her sights set on the Belgian Championships in Zottegem next month. As a former champion, she is keen to make a strong showing. “I know what it feels like to drive around in the tricolour for a year. But beating Lotte Kopecky will be difficult. But finishing close is something that is on my mind,” she shared.

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