Van Petegem wants to get better step by step at Jumbo-Visma Development Team

Van Petegem wants to get better step by step at Jumbo-Visma Development Team

After a period as a trainee, Axandre Van Petegem is now working on his first full year as a rider of the Jumbo-Visma Development Team. Last year he signed a two-year contract with the squad. An introduction, a look back and a look forward with the twenty-year-old Belgian.

Van Petegem used to play football and only started racing as a first-year U17 rider. In August 2021, he started as a trainee with the Jumbo-Visma Development Team. “Due to corona, it wasn’t a normal season. I first got a message from Robbert (de Groot, Head of Development), who asked me if I wanted to join a training camp in the Ardeness. That was during the Liège-Bastogne-Liège reconnaissance. Afterwards, I was allowed to go on a training camp in Slovenia. One thing led to another and then I got the phone call that they wanted me on the team.”

In the beginning, the Belgian needed adjusting. “I was new to the team and didn’t know anyone when I arrived. Now I feel completely at home on the team. I already know everyone well; the training camps in Norway and Spain helped greatly.”

Especially during the training camp in Norway, a good group was created, according to Van Petegem. “The training camp in Norway was super tough conditionally. I had never done cross-country skiing before and there were also a lot of different gym sessions. Some days were really tough, but it was good for team building. We ensured that everyone could finish the training sessions well every day by encouraging each other. There was a good atmosphere. We also did other activities, like cooking. The training camp was perfect for getting to know each other.”

“After the training camps, the first races followed, which involved healthy tension”, says Van Petegem. “But they went well. By training with the team, my condition has really improved. For me, it’s about getting better step by step and at the moment, that’s going pretty well. I look forward to every race. I always learn a lot and it’s good to gain experience this way.”

"I don’t expect to win many races right away. I want to get better and better and then the good results will come naturally."

Axandre Van Petegem

Next season, the 20-year-old Belgian will still ride for the Team Jumbo-Visma Development Team. “I don’t want to look too much to next year, but I will undoubtedly have learned a lot and gained a lot of experience by then. First, I want to do well this year. I don’t expect to win many races right away. I want to get better and better and then the good results will come naturally. And if I get a good result, that’s also good for my confidence, of course.”

Van Petegem is the son of former professional cyclist Peter Van Petegem, who achieved his greatest successes in the spring classics. For the younger Van Petegem, the classics are also his favourite races. “For the future, it is a dream being able to ride them. I live in Oudenaarde, so in the heart of the Flemish spring. The spring classics should suit me well because I am quite explosive. Now I always make sure I train in the morning to rest in the afternoon and follow cycling races. If I can, I really try to watch every race.”

So it should come as no surprise that the Belgian looks up to Wout van Aert. “Wout van Aert is an example for me, especially his character. How he came back stronger after his serious injury is very impressive. That inspires every rider to continue. Actually, I think any pro cyclist is someone to look up to. They all work very hard. Otherwise you don’t get there.”

Van Petegem himself works hard on that bike but doesn’t forget to make time for other things. “I’m studying nutrition and dietetics. Last year I began my studies and still went to campus. That proved difficult to combine with cycling. I also like meeting up with friends and going for a coffee. My family is also very important to me, so I try to spend as much time with them as possible.”

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