Glorious return to cyclocross for Van Empel
Fem van Empel has marked her return to the field with a victory. The 21-year-old...
Along with teammates Johannes Staune-Mittet and Per Strand Hagenes, Loe van Belle will move from the Jumbo-Visma Development Team to the Dutch outfit's elite squad next winter. The 21-year-old rider signed a contract that will take effect from 2024. "I have become a more mature rider over the past few years", he says.
Born in the Dutch city of Zoetermeer, Van Belle joined Team Jumbo-Visma's development programme a few years ago. "During a training camp with the Dutch national team in the Vosges mountains, I took part in a test at the Ballon d'Alsace as a first-year junior. Robbert de Groot was there. I turned out to be the fastest on the mountain. Robbert was so impressed that he contacted me. There were other candidates, but for me, the choice was clear. I liked the history and the ambition of Team Jumbo-Visma."
Since 2021, the young Dutchman has been riding in the yellow and black of Team Jumbo-Visma. "I look back on these three years as a U23 rider with satisfaction", the up-and-coming neo-pro continues. "Every year, I have progressed. One year a little more than the other, but that's part of a young rider's journey. I have always felt supported by the team. It's a pleasant environment, not least because of the many good teammates and knowledgeable staff."
"Last year was all about taking the final step towards the WorldTour", Van Belle reflects. "I improved my cycling knowledge, my training and my racing skills. In terms of results, last year was perhaps not my best year. I had some good results, but a win or a podium is missing this season. I have to be critical about that."
"I am not afraid to take responsibility"
Van Belle also has a highlight. "I was able to open my season at O Gran Camiño. That was super cool. Riding in the same team as Jonas Vingegaard and all the other big names had been one of my goals for years. Riding with the guys from the WorldTour team is an experience that nobody can take away from me. It makes you want more. Fortunately, it will happen more often in the coming years."
Van Belle praises his team's specific approach. "Because the team has allowed us to get used to racing at the highest level, the final step up is probably not that big. I felt very welcome in the team. Next year, I will be part of the WorldTour team. It is a wonderful feeling. I have dared to race in the last few years, but I have also dared to fail. I will take that with me to the pros. I am not afraid to take responsibility. I can say that I have grown up in the last few years, and I am ready for the step up."