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  • Over 1 million competing in some form of competition every month… where would they do it all?

    • ebbe

      – Anywhere on the 35,000 km cycle path in NL, and/or the shared roads
      – Or on one the 122 dedicated outdoor cycling tracks, such as http://www.sportzonelimburg.nl/content/TomDumoulinBikeParkRoutes.png. I know of 4 such (but smaller) dedicated outdoor tracks within cycling distance of my house. Edit: As Nikola says, these tracks are used by (several) local clubs for training and competition, and even for other sports.
      – Or, for trackies, on one of the 5 velodromes in NL (not counting the temporary one built for the yearly Six Days of Rotterdam, which only exists for 6 days each year)
      – Or, for MTBers, on one of the 185 MTB routes in NL. Most of these may be a bit tame for hardcore MTBers, but most are actually perfectly suited for CX
      – Or, again for MTBers, on one of the 7 small MTB bike parks in NL

      I did scan through the research report but couldn’t find that particular number of 1.2 million though. The way I read it, it seems there are, very roughly, about half a million “serious sport” cyclists (who are constantly looking to improve their performances) and 320k “leisure sport” cyclists (who mainly cycle to relax and enjoy). Total would be about 811k.

      The report does give a clue why there’s a difference between the >1 million, and the >800k: The >800k (of the >1 million large total) all actually own a (or several) “sports” bicycle (road bike, MTB, etc), while the remaining >200k are self-identified “sports/sporty/sportive cyclists”, but they may practice their “sport” (however they define it) on eg hybrid bicycles, city bikes, or even on rentals or borrowed bikes…

      Of course, then there’s the millions who cycle for commute and utility, but they’re beyond the scope of the report, which only focusses on cycling as a sport.

      • Patrick Murphy

        This actually blows my mind.

    • Little known fact:
      Most (if not all) clubs in The Netherlands have their own ‘parcours’ – usually in a dedicated sportpark (as the one described by ebbe) where there are other clubs (ie soccer, field hockey). Closing it off for weeknight crits and training of kids (7 to early teens) is not a problem since it doesn’t bother anybody and in the case of getting kids onto bikes it is super safe, laps are short so that parents can watch (and cheer). They are mostly flat courses (with some very short hills/bridges/overpasses), it is the flattest country in the world after all. If there is no event and such you can ride there for fun/practice.

      Not surprisingly, clubs also run internal competition all season long (Apr-Sept road, Cx/track in the winter where possible) and a lot of the PROs (domestic, continental) that are local/started from the club show up if their schedules permit so the average level of your weeknight race is pretty decent. There are also lower level/entry ones.

      Riding on the public roads in The Netherlands, while groups of cyclists are more accepted than is the general case elsewhere, still have to deal with your average ‘disgruntled person who hates their job/life/everybody else and think they are invincible and own the road in their car’ on a tiny street littered with street furniture (Amstel Gold Race as an exmaple of typical roads) so while better overall, the same road hazards we all have to deal it are largely relevant. There is just a very big cycling scene there – cycling of all types including commuting so ‘racing’ is just a byproduct of that.

  • The_cats_whiskers

    That is a great picture of van Moorsel and Vos together. Both totally dominated in a way only matched by Jeannie Longo. All three have so many trophies in their cabinets – an explosion of medals and awards.

    Earlier this year Dutch doctor Peter Janssen confessed to having supplied, injected and monitored van Moorsel with epo prior to Sydney 2000 where van Moorsel achieving those three Olympic gold medals. Prio to this revelation Monique Knol had repeatedly claimed that the Dutch cycling authorities supported PED abuse by van Moorsel. Van Moorsel countered Peter Janssen by stating that he was lying and should be ignored. Earlier she had countered the accusations from Knol with the classy put down that Knol was a sore loser who did not win as much as herself. Cycling afficionados will recall that this was the same technique used by Armstrong towards Lemond – “I won the tour seven times – you are just bitter and jealous because my record is so much better than yours”.

    Some years ago Joe Papp busted the husband of Jeannie Longo, showing the authorities the correspondence he kept on record of Longo’s husband ordering epo and Papp supplying him. Longo’s husband stated that the vast quantities of EPO he purchased were for his own personal use. Longo’s husband was then subject to French legal preceedings for criminal conduct, which the civil authorites pursued effectively. Longo retains all her awards and trophies. Her husband’s epo purchases do not impact on her sporting record.

    • ac

      Longo’s husband was rather a dealer, I don’t think she knew anything

      • The_cats_whiskers

        ac that is quite some mental gymnastics you are attempting there; I am not sure you haven’t landed in a heap on the mat. So he runs a PED import and supply business during the period when there is no test for EPO and usage is running riot through the peloton, and his life partner does not know what he is up to.

        Would anyone think Lizzie was the only female who had a ban they covered up with lies and obfuscation, pretending it was something innocent ?

  • Robert Merkel

    If you give lots of people the opportunity to ride bikes, and those who want to the opportunity to race in a fun and safe environment, you find a few with the talent and drive to be world beaters.

    Also has the advantage of being a shed load cheaper than mass screening juniors to identify ones with high VO2maxes or lots of fast-twitch muscle fibres and shipping them off to academies.

    • Pretty much sums up Dutch (competitive) cycling. As well as being a professional/Olympic athlete is a viable ‘carreer’ in the Netherlands with a sizeable support from the various national federations. By viable I mean, you don’t have to have three side jobs in order to not starve to death (refer to Phil Gaimon’s books about the latter)

      In addition to the second statement, I am in full agreement that sport should be for everybody, rather than an instituionalized search for talent. If you have one million participants you are bound to include that one per cent of top talent. Though the view that you *must* be selected and go to a sports academy to be a professional is still a firm conviction held by the general public and the coaching professionals in a good majority of countries today. In the end it is a game of numbers 1% of millions vs 1% of ‘selected’ top talent. I’d rather have my tax money towards cycling infrastructure than ‘talent incubators’ that for the most part create gym teachers….

  • OnTheRivet

    Dominance in cycling by a single country has always led to one conclusion, being women doesn’t absolve them from this conclusion. Lots of adult inset acne in women’s cycling too….odd.

    • ebbe

      Firstly: Yes, there actually is a big difference between women’s cycling and men’s cycling: Money. In most countries, investments in women’s cycling are severely lacking. If there’s one country that then does invest, and finds the money to fund three of the biggest teams in the WWT, that country will then be able to rise to the top with relative ease. Not saying it’s easy in an absolute sense, but for a Dutch 15 year old girl it will be relatively easier to work towards eventually becoming a WWT pro than it is for a Japanse, Ukrainian or Argentinian 15 year old girl. This principle exists for both men and women, but it’s much stronger for women than it is for men, because there’s simply more money in the men’s categories.

      Secondly, in addition to the major differences in funding, there’s a particular rule in the WWT which does not exist in the men’s WT: For a team to be considered “Dutch” (have a Dutch flag behind the team name – which the mainly local/national sponsors want) the majority of riders have to be of Dutch nationality. This means there are three top teams (ranked 1, 2 and 6 out of 35 that scored points in the 2017 WWT) who are basically forced to hire a majority of Dutch riders. The new Movistar women’s team will have to hire mostly Spanish riders to have a Spanish flag behind their team name. Etc. Therefore, in the WWT, the availability of sponsor money from a certain country automatically means more riders from that country get their shot in the big league. This is not (necessarily) the case in the men’s WT. The best illustration is Sunweb: Sunweb men’s team always has a German flag (because German license) and Sunweb women’s team always has a Dutch flag (because majority Duch riders).

      Thirdly, on the world stage the current dominance of Dutch women (forgetting about trade teams, purely looking at nationality) actually isn’t as commanding as one might think after reading this article. Starting from Rio 2016, Dutch women gathered 32 medals (Olympics + World Championships, across all major cycling disciplines). The number 2 (USA) got 31. The number 3 (UK) got 27. The shared numbers 4 (Germany and Australia) both got 26. You could, for instance, write a similar article about American women cyclists. That article would obviously have different angles, but it would be quite easy to make American women look very dominant.

      None of this proves there is no doping in the women’s peloton of course. I would be surprised if there wasn’t.

      • George

        “You could, for instance, write a similar article about American women cyclists. That article would obviously have different angles, but it would be quite easy to make American women look very dominant.”

        World road champion: Chantal Blaak.
        World time trial champion: Annemiek van Vleuten.
        Olympic road champion and Women’s WorldTour leader: Anna van der Breggen.
        European road champion: Marianne Vos.
        European time trial champion: Ellen van Dijk.

        Show me the American equivalent of this.

        • ebbe

          You obviously only read part of my comment, and chose to ignore the rest. I clearly specified statistics of how the American women have only one medal less, in world level events starting in Rio, than the Dutch women have. That is sufficient evidence of the fact that American women are nearly as successful on the world stage, albeit in different disciplines. And that then means you could write a similar piece about American women, albeit with different angles, since you’d write about different disciplines.

          You can find all the details behind those statistics here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1AMLggeJ0VtPUTRKJg4Vz7NnEJFmZJt9rYbyW20HNLh4. Go ahead and pick your own preferred event and discipline. You’re welcome.

          • George

            Well, I thought it was obvious not every medal has the same weight. And why introduce multiple angles in the one angle argument this article makes. And it’s bloody obvious such an article as the above can not be written about the American ladies, how well they may be doing at the moment.

            • ebbe

              “Well, I thought it was obvious not every medal has the same weight” .And that’s why the spreadsheet with statistics accounts for weighted medals. Just have a look over there, as I suggested. You’ll also see that even in only golds, the US and the Netherlands are very close. UK outranks both, by the way. That’s again over all disciplines, and only for women. So that’s your first sentence ticked off

              “And why introduce multiple angles in…”. Nobody is “introducing new angles”, it’s a matter choosing the angle up front. As all writers do by the way, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What I said was that the original angle chosen determines the story. The stats clearly show that American women have almost as many (gold) medals as Dutch women, but just in different disciplines. This means that overall, they are almost as successful at cycling (in general, over all disciplines). I can’t believe I have to explain this, but here goes:

              It’s easy to make a particular group seem very successful if your story only focusses on the disciplines that group happens to be good at. However, that does not mean that particular group is overall superior, because you’ve left out exactly those disciplines in which they underperform. It’s what is called “cherry picking” (surely without any malicious intent by the author – don’t get me wrong here). For the Dutch women, one discipline they don’t medal in is (for instance) mountainbiking. Therefore: If you would include mountainbiking but exclude cyclocross and/or road in your story, the Dutch women would all of a sudden not look so successful at all. That’s just one example. If you’d only focus on track, UK women can probably be written up to be the most successful in the world. Etc. It all depends on which choices the federation makes, which disciplines sponsors are interested in, the possibilities a country’s geography offers, etc etc… For the Dutch women, road is the main eye catcher. For other countries, it’s other disciplines. And that is exactly what I said in my original comment: The angle you choose determines who leads the scorecards, and therefore (purely logically) your scorecards depend on the angle you chose (not “add”, but “chose up front”). So that’s your second sentence dealt with.

              So yes, such an article CAN in fact be written about American women, and also about German women, and most certainly about UK women, if you’d only pick the disciplines they are good at. And indeed: Depending which angle you chose you can probably make any of these countries look like the most successful. Just have a look at the overall statistics and you’ll see for yourself. And that’s your final sentence dealt with.

              Please also note that you are the one who started this whole scrutinizing-every-sentence thing, not me

  • Cycle Sierra Nevada

    The culture of cycling in The Netherlands is fantastic. It’s difficult not to admire them after watching the link below and not a single person with a helmet.



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