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Had I really understood the significance of the tests (that is, had I been real Belgian), I would probably have made a lot more money in the sport than I did. If I had grasped the significance of the numbers and been raised in a culture that values a rider finishing alone, his clothing covered in pig ****, as much as one finishing with a celebratory group wearing yellow, things would have been different.
- A Dog in a Hat, Joe Parkin
 

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because it has become their sport
their top kid athletes don't grow up to play basketball, baseball, football or hockey
they grow up to be cyclists and footballers (soccer players)
The sport matters to them. They'll get 10-20K of paying spectators at a weekends race
 

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Cyclocross and cycling in Belgium reminds me a lot of football/soccer in Brazil or basketball in inner city New York, Rugby in New Zealand, etc. It has become the culture, it's part of what it means to be Belgian.
 

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Don't forget money. They're easily the best paid cross racers in the world. And this money all comes from the popularity in the sport (huge attendance at races and sponsorships). I think we also need to remember that in most Euro countries, Belgium included, there are less sports to follow, allowing cycling to assume a higher position on the radar of the general public. (For example my Dutch coworker new all about the Dutch 's great day at World's, despite the fact that she really is not a cycling fan, because it's plastered all over their national media).
 

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Also, anyone that's really good from anywhere else gets a road contract and leaves cross.

I think Van der Haar has a couple more years in cross before he goes to the road.
Van der Haar has said that he is all in for cross. He claims he doesn't like road racing, and it's boring. I hope he makes a career out of cross. Van der Poel on the hand, I think he will follow in Boom's footsteps. Hope he at least makes it to elites in cross before he leaves.
 
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