Abby-Mae Parkinson reinforces the Lotto Soudal Ladies in 2020
She loves the Classics
We are excited that Belgian road champion Jesse Vandenbulcke (23) will join the Lotto Soudal Ladies team next year. She isn’t a stranger, because she already rode four years for the team: as second-year novice, two years as a junior and one season as an elite rider. Jesse has fond memories of that time and that played part in her decision to ride for Lotto Soudal in 2020.
Jesse Vandenbulcke: “There was a great atmosphere in the team back then, it even felt like a family. Riders and staff had a great bond. When we see each other we often talk about that time. I always maintained a good contact with the team and I am very happy to return to Lotto Soudal. I’m convinced that I will feel good at Lotto Soudal and will be surrounded with the best care.”
Last year, Jesse Vandenbulcke made a comeback in the peloton after she quit cycling in 2016 because of a back injury. In 2017 she gave birth to her son Fabian. Afterwards, she felt like starting up her cycling career again. Last season she made her comeback in the bunch as a member of the Keukens Redant team. This year she rode for Doltcini – Van Eyck Sport. At the end of June, Jesse conquered the Belgian road title in Ghent. The highlight of her comeback up till now. This season she also claimed a nice eleventh place at Ghent-Wevelgem, finished sixth on stage 3b of the Tour de Feminin and tenth on the final stage of the Lotto Belgium Tour with finish in Geraardsbergen.
Jesse Vandenbulcke: “I quit cycling in 2016, in my second season as an elite rider. My back hurt too much. I couldn’t train without pain and also in my everyday life I had problems. But as time passed, it felt like I wasn’t ready with cycling quite yet. I hadn’t achieved my goals yet. People also often asked me if I would still race again. And so I decided to make a comeback. I am still very happy with that decision.”
“I had never thought my comeback would go so smoothly though and that I would become Belgian champion this year. Up till now I didn’t have any back problems, but I am alert. I have a good team around me that monitors me closely. They see to it that I sufficiently train my back muscles and that I have the right bike position and saddle.”
"Of course I want to show off my Belgian jersey in 2020."
Jesse Vandenbulcke: “When I made my comeback I had a plan. First, I wanted to ride for a club team and see if it was really feasible to get my place in the bunch back. In the beginning I worked fulltime, but still I managed to have a good start. Then I got the offer to join a UCI team. It’s now or never I thought and I decided to start working halftime. From then on I could train more specifically and take more rest. And then I became Belgian champion. You need some luck, but you must also work a lot.”
By claiming the Belgian road title the comeback of Jesse Vandenbulcke is already a success, but of course she is hungry for more. What are her ambitions for 2020 and in the long run?
Jesse Vandenbulcke: “I set a huge step forward this year, but in finales of races there was often something missing. It’s my goal to change that next year so that I can help Lotte Kopecky in the run-up to a sprint for example or support the team in another way. And I want to show off my national jersey. People recognize me faster and I get more appreciation, because the Belgian title is fought hard for. Wearing this shirt does make it more difficult to join an early breakaway though.”
“I like the Flemish spring races best. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Ghent-Wevelgem and the Ronde van Vlaanderen are important races for me in which I want to set good results in the future. This year I got a taste of the Ardennes Classics as well and it was a great experience. Those races really are for climbers, so I will always ride them in support of the team. By conquering the Belgian title I realized one of my goals much sooner than ever expected. Now I would love to wear that jersey a second time in my career. That is a new goal for the future. And when the course suits me I once would love to get a good result at the World Championships. But that will only be possible in several years time.”
Photo: Photo News