Adding to Human Powered Health’s 2023 men’s squad are current WorldTour riders Gijs Van Hoecke and Barnabás Peák. Van Hoecke, a strong one-day rider from Gent, Belgium signs from the AG2R Citroën Team through 2024, with Hungarian Peák joining from Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux for the 2023 season.
The duo will be crucial in the lead-out of new sprinters Sasha Weemaes and Stanisław Aniołkowski, as well as pursuing the team’s one-day and breakaway objectives throughout the year.
The Vespa-riding strongman
Training partner and best friend of Greg Van Avermaet, the Belgian 30-year-old Van Hoecke is looking forward to being a key part of Human Powered Health for the next two seasons.
A former track cyclist who was an Olympian in 2012 and in that same year won the madison at the World Championships in Australia. Since then, the Belgian has become a dedicated one-day specialist and teammate, as well as utilizing a considerable engine in the sport’s biggest races. He has eight participations in the Tour of Flanders, six Paris-Roubaix’s and four Milano-Sanremo on his palmarès.
“I’m here to put the train on the rails,” Van Hoecke said of the sprint aspirations. “I have experience in the sprint train having worked with Dylan Groenewegen in the past so this is what I love to do.”
A strong rider in his own right, in 2021, training partner Oliver Naesen remarked in a piece for CyclingNews, “Wow, give me your legs for one day and I would win everything,” about Van Hoecke.
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“The sprint train will be the most important thing, but on Human Powered Health I will get a chance to ride for myself in the other races and this is what I like about this team,” he said. “Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Le Samyn and Nokere Koerse are the races I really like and those are the ones where I really want to show what I’m capable of, but also guide the young guys in those races.”
Van Hoecke will team up with two Belgians on the team including team director Hendrik Redant who he is excited to race under.
“We are very happy to bring the strong and experienced Gijs to our team and I am sure he will be a crucial guy to lead our sprinters to victory,” Redant said.
Belgian races are unique meaning that this home connection will be pivotal for the team. “It’s not easy if you don’t come from Flanders and you have to learn it all by yourself, so I think I can help the young guys,” Van Hoecke explains. “It’s like we are born with it, there are races that go past every town you live and there are always touring groups every weekend. In other countries you have football, but in Belgium you have cycling. You live with it.”
Van Hoecke started by riding in one of these groups and stresses that the fun element of the sport is something that always attracted him and he still feels.
Away from cycling, Van Hoecke spends time with his young son and when he can, maintains and rides his old Vespa which he explains is impossible to drive unless you have the skill.
Peák brings Grand Tour legs
A 23-year-old Hungarian athlete who has three years of WorldTour experience, Peák has raced for much of the year in service of his team leaders Alexander Kristoff and Biniam Girmay, assisting them to victory on several occasions. The former national road champion and two-time time-trial champion also has a turn of speed in his own right and showcased it this year when he took over Girmay’s sprinting duties at the Giro d’Italia after an unfortunate incident with a champagne cork sidelined the Eritrean.
The 21-stage Giro d’Italia was Peák’s debut Grand Tour, a moment in a professional athlete’s career that can often define them.
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“I believe that riding the Giro has given me a lot mentally and physically,” he said. “I now know that I can trust myself to go into any race and have the endurance to perform even after many days of racing.”
“We were super impressed with the lead-outs he was doing at Intermarché this season,” said performance director Jonas Carney. “He’ll be a big part of our lead-out train, but we also know he can produce results at his target races.”
This mental and physical strength are traits that Human Powered Health will benefit from throughout the toughest days on the bike. The chance to aim for these results was what initially attracted the Hungarian.
“The relaxed atmosphere of the team is really attractive to me,” he explains. “I am looking forward to being able to spend more time with my teammates between races, and I am also looking forward to getting more opportunities to go for a result and chase my first professional win.”
Away from the bike, Peák decompresses from tough days in the saddle by gaming and reading. He is a fan of Formula One games – he even has the full driving suite setup including the steering wheel – as well as the works of Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø.
That Norwegian connection will go down well with Kristian Aasvold who renews with the team for the coming season alongside Chad Haga and breakaway rider supreme Stephen Bassett. Human Powered Health looks forward to welcoming Gijs and Barnabás to the ranks. We’re not done announcing quite yet.
2023 roster so far
Adam de Vos
Embret Svestad Bårdseng
Gijs Van Hoecke