Jesse Vandenbulcke has made a notable decision regarding her cycling career, opting not to renew her contract with the American WorldTour team, Human Powered Health. Instead, the former Belgian champion will embark on a new journey with the De Ceuster-Bonache Cycling Team, a move that has raised some eyebrows. Despite joining a cyclocross-focused team, Vandenbulcke will not be switching disciplines but will continue her road racing career.
Davy De Ceuster and Dirk Verbeeck, the team’s leaders, expressed their belief in the mutual benefit of this partnership. They anticipate that Vandenbulcke’s presence will bolster the team’s capabilities, particularly in road racing during the cyclo-cross off-season. They value her experience highly, seeing her as an asset in strengthening their riders and enhancing their performance in UCI races.
For Vandenbulcke, this switch to De Ceuster-Bonache is a strategic move to rediscover her passion for racing, following a challenging period marked by personal struggles. She recounted the difficulties of the past season, including the loss of her father, the cancer battle of her training partner Jasmien De Boeck, and her own recovery from an ankle fracture sustained in a crash. She also pointed out the limitations of her previous team setup, which restricted her participation in Belgian races and placed a strain on her family life due to frequent travels.
The decision to join De Ceuster-Bonache was not taken lightly. Vandenbulcke acknowledged receiving several offers but was drawn to the new team for its fit with her personal and professional aspirations. She emphasised her desire to compete in more Belgian races, which aligns with her goal to be closer to home and her son.
Vandenbulcke also expressed a desire to shift her racing approach, aiming to rely more on instinct and experience rather than data-driven strategies. She spoke of her intention to race based on feeling, utilizing her skills in race reading and positioning, qualities that have been central to her success. At De Ceuster-Bonache, she looks forward to stepping out of a support role and proving her capability to secure victories.
The De Ceuster-Bonache team, while primarily focused on cyclocross, is also keen to expand its presence in road racing, with the potential to attract additional sponsorship for its road campaign. This move signifies a growing ambition within the team to make a mark in both disciplines.