Turning the page on a successful junior career, Vlad was a new member of the Development program for 2023. After a strong opening year in 2021 as a junior, 2022 saw the young Belgian take another step with a very consistent campaign in which he took 29 top ten results in 41 race days – which included five wins, several podiums and a third place at the World Championships.
His nickname of the ‘the Impaler’ (due to his first name) doesn’t match up with his outgoing and smiling personality, yet some similarities can be drawn with his competitive streak on the bike with Vlad stating that success for him is “when he feels satisfied after the race; whether that be me or a teammate getting a result.”
That competitive nature has been something that has been within Vlad’s blood since a young age. With a football pitch nearby his home so like most young boys he played football, but he soon found out he didn’t enjoy it and took up cycling as a five-year-old – immediately entering his first race that year too. Practicing, athletics, cross country, and roller skating alongside cycling initially, Vlad eventually stopped the other sports to focus fully on cycling – something that has “gone pretty well so far”.
His time as a cyclist hasn’t been without setbacks and Vlad suffered a pretty serious injury to his fourth and fifth fingers during the 2022 season, which required a lot of rehabs, and for a while Vlad thought he might not be able to grip the handlebars properly in a sprint again. Nevertheless, the resilient youngster kept his head down and “dug deep mentally” to come back from it all, peaking in time to take bronze in the junior road race at the World Championships – which meant so much to him. Learning from it, Vlad reflects…
“You always have to keep believing in it; it’s not over until it’s over.”
A similar story followed Vlad in his opening year with the Development program where he quietly had a really good season for a first year U23 rider; including several top tens and two second place stage finishes at the Olympia’s Tour and Tour Alsace respectively. However, his 2023 was unfortunately cut short after a crash at the Tour de l’Avenir, where he was representing the Belgian national team, saw him break his collarbone. That incident has only left Vlad motivated even more and he wants to make his mark in 2024.
“Charismatic, focused and laid-back”, according to himself, talkative Vlad exudes a confidence and self-belief but one that doesn’t come across as arrogant, more a measured approach to everything. Coupled with his driven personality but ability to see the fun in things, Vlad hopes that his outlook on life will see him continue to climb the ranks of the cycling world.
Not only fluent in Dutch and English, Vlad interestingly also speaks fluent Russian and sees himself as half Lithuanian due to his mother who is from there. When he’s not on the bike, Vlad just enjoys goofing around with his mates and spending some good quality time with them and his family.