Jesse Vandenbulcke on her year in the Belgian tricolor


Jesse Vandenbulcke on her year in the Belgian tricolor

Last year, Jesse Vandenbulcke won the Belgian Championships. Unfortunately, she was unable to show often her national jersey in 2020 due to the known circumstances. But winning the Belgian Championships close to her home town Ghent remains an unforgettable memory for Jesse.

Jesse Vandenbulcke: “I was very relaxed that day. I could just leave home in the morning, the weather was nice and I didn't feel any stress at all. After a quiet start, Laura Verdonschot attacked. As a youth cyclist I rode with her for Lotto Belisol. I decided to join her and ended up in a leading group that got a fairly large lead. In the end I was left there with my current teammate Julie Van de Velde, my old teammate Mieke Dockx and Ann-Sophie Duyck. I started my sprint at 500 meters and I still can't explain why I started so early; I just did. The discharge at the finish was very great and it was unique to experience that with my son Fabian who was at the finish together with my friend Giovanni.”

Winning the team classification in Valencia was the perfect start to the season!

At the beginning of this year, Jesse switched from Doltcini - Van Eyck Sport to Lotto Soudal. The Vuelta CV Feminas on February 9 became her first race in the Lotto Soudal shirt. In the subsequent Setmana Ciclista Valenciana (20/02 - 23/02), Jesse unfortunately crashed in the first stage and broke a cervical vertebra.

Jesse Vandenbulcke: “Because 2020 is such a special year, I didn’t have many opportunities to experience good moments in my Belgian jersey. The year started well with a nice training camp with my new team. There was a good atmosphere right away. In our first race in Valencia, Arianna Fidanza finished fourth and we just missed a podium place. However, when we were unloading the camper, we were told that we had won the team classification and that was the perfect start to the season for us!”

“Eleven days later I crashed during the opening stage of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. Fortunately, I was able to make a quick click and focus on my recovery instead of just giving up. Eventually I could have resumed the competition in Dwars door Vlaanderen on April 1, but corona didn’t allow that. Of course, it was frustrating after having worked so hard. I wanted to show my Belgian jersey and knew that I was riding in a team that believed in me. But soon I made the switch again and made sure I was ready for the moment when we got the green light to race again. During this period I was able to spend more time with my family and that resulted in many beautiful moments off the bike.”

Through the Zij Aan Zij project of Cycling Flanders, I am also committed to guiding young girls who are taking their first steps in cycling. Due to the corona crisis, not all planned events could take place, but I maintain close contact with the girls. I am very happy that as a Belgian champion I was able to put my shoulders under this project. As a young girl it is very difficult to start cycling if you have no one with experience around you to teach you things and give you tips. I am happy and proud to do this.”