The Human Powered Health women’s team has completed its roster for the coming season with the signing of Jesse Vandenbulcke. The Belgian signs through 2023 as she steps up to the Women’s WorldTour alongside 2022 teammate Marjolein van’t Geloof.
“I’m happy to be a part of Human Powered Health as the team grows to a higher level,” Vandenbulcke said on joining the team. “I’m really excited to have new experiences.”
The 26-year-old who lives in Ghent, Belgium, describes herself as a rider who can ride strongly in all types of races but with a particular interest in the Flemish classics races due to her proximity to the parcours.
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“I love those kinds of climbs in the classics,” she says. “When it’s cold, rainy and windy, those types of races.”
It has been a strong year for the 2019 Belgian champion, who won the national level Geluwe and PK Oost-Vlaanderen races, as well as finishing second behind van’t Geloof in the 1.1 Grote Prijs Beerens. In total, the Belgian amassed 14 top-10 finishes in 2022 and completed the inaugural Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.
“I never thought I’d be doing the Tour de France,” she explains. “Racing eight days in a row was new so I was happy to find out how to plan for a long stage race. In a lot of races, the only goal is to survive at the end but at longer races, you can really plan tactics, which is different to one-day classics.”
The Belgian grew up practicing many sports, among them soccer, gymnastics, swimming, running and dancing. At the age of 11, while living with her grandfather – who owned a duathlon/triathlon team – Vandenbulcke joined in with the events before eventually specializing in cycling. A passion was ignited after finishing second in her first ever race.
She still uses running for training which she says is a mental boost. “Getting focussed in another way is very useful and when I run it is really effective on my condition.” She hopes that this crosstraining will one day culminate in completing an Ironman challenge.
Vandenbulcke will be one of two mothers on Human Powered Health alongside Cypriot champion Antri Christoforou. The Belgian’s five-year-old son Fabian is an avid cyclist racing in BMX, taking after Jesse and her husband Giovanni.
“It can be difficult to go back to racing, do your training, be a mother and have a social life,” she says. “Right now though, being a mother in the peloton is not a taboo.”
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An important rock for Vandenbulcke, she brings Fabian to many of the Belgian races.
“It’s really nice that I can bring him to races as it is an extra atmosphere in the team to take the stress away,” she explains. “When I’m on the bike and really hurting I think of him and it really helps to think about making him proud of me.”
Striving for a healthy lifestyle within her family is very important to Vandenbulcke.
“Doing sport every day makes us healthy but also making healthy food and trying to get a good sleep every night,” she says. “At first you not only have to learn how you have to eat but also the effect it has on your body. For Fabian, it’s important to learn that it’s a lifestyle and to make sure we are happy with what we eat,” she adds.
Off the bike, Vandenbulcke enjoys cooking for her family and doing activities to make them happy as well as being a mentor and inspiration for young girls who are getting into the sport.
Jesse will link up with the rest of the team at a training camp in Girona, Spain in December.
Completed 2023 roster
Marjolein van’t Geloof