Belgian U23 champion Julie Brouwers has signed a professional contract with Jean-François Bourlart’s Intermarché-Circus-Wanty team to reinforce the cyclocross squad for the 2023-2024 season. The team comprises five other riders – Thijs Aerts, Kevin Kuhn, Gerben Kuypers (Elite), Arne Baers and Lauren Molengraaf (U23) – and is directed by brothers Bart and Geert Wellens.
Julie Brouwers’ career has followed a linear progression in the U23 category. In addition to her national title, she finished tenth in the World Championships in Hoogerheide last winter.
Independent of the type of parcours, the rider from the Antwerp region has shown regularity in the elite peloton by finishing in the top fifteen in twenty races, including a sixth place in Oostmalle and a thirteenth place in the World Cup in Dublin.
Last Saturday, Julie started the cyclocross season with a victory in Vorselaar in her new colours. She is the second female athlete of the squad alongside Lauren Molengraaf, who will celebrate her eighteenth birthday on the 5th of October and step up to the U23 category.
Julie Brouwers said:
“It is an honour for me to join the structure of Intermarché-Circus-Wanty and to start this new chapter by winning my first cyclocross race with my new Belgian champion’s jersey. The team has shown its confidence from the start for the next three seasons. This translates into a common vision about my future, aiming to make progression each year. I want to become a fixed value of Belgian cyclocross and to make steps on the international scene each season under the direction of Bart and Geert Wellens. With them, I can benefit of a professional approach and world class coaching. I immediately noticed progress thanks to my new equipment and the association of technical partners of the structure. During our training camp in La Bresse, my new teammates shared their experience on and off the bike. I felt the eagerness to push my limits by training with them. It was a warm welcome and I can’t wait to meet the rest of the structure in our next collective training camp with the World Team. I will compete abroad the next couple of weeks before starting the World Cups, in which I want to show my capabilities this winter.”
Bart Wellens (Sports Director) added:
“In 2023 we reached an important step with our cyclocross team. Julie Brouwers and Lauren Molengraaf became the first female athletes to sign a professional contract with our structure. Thanks to the launch of our Continental team Circus-ReUz-Technord, we could offer our cyclocross riders a broad range of road races and a tailor-made year programme. It is the first time we could offer it to all of them and I’m looking forward to see the positive outcome of this step forward this winter. With the reinforcement of our two rising Belgian talents Julie Brouwers and Gerben Kuypers, we’ll start our fifth cyclocross winter with a group of six riders.”
“Julie Brouwers has the ambition to climb to the top of Belgian cyclocross and to progress step by step on the international scene. We will fully support her to reach her goals in the next three seasons. Julie and Lauren Molengraaf are perfect sparring partners in training. Lauren will step up to a new category with races which are up to 25 minutes longer and with a fully packed competition programme. This step is not to be underestimated. Naturally, Lauren sets the bar high for herself. Our role is to prepare our girls for realistic goals within a framework in which they can keep growing in a serene way.”
Jean-François Bourlart (CEO Continuum Sports) concluded:
“Cyclocross is a discipline we love. We’re proud of all performances achieved by our team since its launch in 2020. We collected numerous national titles, but also the jersey of European champion and world champion. That makes us proud of course, and we’re convinced that other great moments await us from this winter. Our team is composed of a lot of talent and we want, with the expertise of our performance team, bring them to the top. I’m convinced that we’re in for a great winter in terms of sportive performances.”
“I also hope that this project will encounter success commercially, as we are still open to finding new partners, who can accompany the success of our team by lending it their name, for example. I remain convinced that cyclocross is an interesting discipline for any company targeting the Belgian and Benelux markets, and that we can offer great opportunities, including in the team naming. It’s a great chance to associate one’s brand with a very popular discipline, which conveys the values of fighting spirit, surpassing oneself and tenacity to achieve the best performances.”