Why does Belgium dominate on the men side and the Netherlands dominate on the women side?

Does anyone know if there is any reason why Belgian women cannot win races like mens do?
And vice-versa (aside from MVDP) dutch men doesn’t seem to win nearly as much as dutch women.
I find this kind of symmetry very strange, and I would like to know if anyone has an explanation on why this happens.

Talent pool at the time…I am sure that Slovenia won’t be dominating GT forever either! :grinning:


I don’t know much about their youth level, except when I’ve visited Belgium I’ve only seen male youth bike races I suspect the Dutch are more inclusive :roll_eyes:


Should they be the same? As in, Men and Women from both countries should win the same amount?

So who comes in second?

It’s not just about winning - in cross races, there will often be 7-8 male Belgians in the top ten, and 1-2 Dutch. In the women’s race, it’s the other way round, nearly all the top are Dutch.

That could definitively be the case, but still doesn’t explain why Dutch men are not on the same level as Belgium.

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Yes, I didn’t mean that they necessarily win, but more like looking at the top 10, and seeing all Belgium flags in male and all Dutch flags in female. It’s strange! I would expect a more balanced distribution.

Could be that the Dutch gene is average and on a level playing field it wouldn’t stand out but because they promote equality as opposed to other countries, who don’t, it does stand out through the women’s results. Also from what I gather the Belgian cycling fosters male youth and going by history cycling is definitely in there genes.

Would be astonished if there were any significant differences in the Dutch and Belgian gene pools given how close they are geographically, culturally and historically! E.g. MVDP was born in Belgium and has French ancestry, WVA has Dutch ancestry on his dad’s side.

Suspect it’s down to cultural and/or funding differences at the grass roots level. From a very subjective perspective it does seem like cycling in Belgium has an image as a real hard man’s sport. Maybe women in Belgium are just more likely to choose other sports where in Netherlands it’s more balanced.


Agreed, cultural differences etc are probably a better explanation in addition to the grass roots funding possibility👍

cycling anc specially CX is much bigger in Belgium, heard a podcast with WvA recently where he explained that there are a lot local (like offline crowdfunding) funding initiatives for young local bike racers, where the “fans” provide enough funds for the bikes and wheels needed for racing CX seriously. In the Netherlands that’s not the case, but we do indeed focus more on women on pro level on any sport for the last years (not only in cycling).

So, yes, mainly a cultural thing where belgium stands out in supporting young cyclists and where cycling is not so popular for women…


I can’t verify whether its actually true… but I’ve seen this asked before in other places and the consensus answer seemed to be that womens cycling just doesn’t get the funding/support etc… in Belgium that it does in the Netherlands (from a CX perspective at least).

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I read an article about the difference recently, I’ve tried to find it, but think it was on a cyclocross social media site. Apparently, in the Dutch youth system, young girls race against boys a year younger than them. That makes the girls more competitive, so they are more inclined to believe in themselves and continue racing. There are also more girls-only races at junior level.

In Belgium, lots of girls named cycling as their sport/hobby, but only 150 had racing licenses. With a “talent pool” that small, it’s hard to develop good teams. It’s a vicious circle too, without enough entries, organisors won’t put girls-only races on, but without girls-only races, many girls won’t feel competitive and won’t race…

My take is opportunities on the road are more plentiful for the men v woman.

More focus on road for $$

I feel like Dutch men who cycle, en masse, seem to gravitate towards the track and sprinting. Not sure if this is true, just an unscientific observation that may not hold up to scrutiny.

Another analog to this is the U.S. men’s soccer team and the U.S. women’s soccer team. The men toggle somewhere between middling and horrible, the women are dominant. The reason for this in the U.S. is that the best male athletes, by and large, gravitate toward American football and Basketball.

Not sure I have a point … I know nothing about Dutch or Belgium sporting cultures, but just observations. I do believe, however, that cycling is a top 2 sport in Belgium, thus it attracts their best male athletes, while perhaps in Holland it falls below 3-4 other sports.

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Nope, bad development, nothing more. I’m Portuguese American, so I’ll use Portugal as an example. How is a nation so small able to produce so many great soccer players? Look across the top leagues you’ll find Portuguese representation, we’re def not special athletically, it’s all about good youth systems.


There might not be as much Dutch male (big tour) winners… but plenty of Dutch big hitters (sprinters, top class domestiques, time trialists etc.).

Cultural sporting differences do play a role but not as much as you might think. The sport is still very big in NL.

Well … probably a combination of both. If the very best American athletes in the NBA and NFL grew up playing soccer (like kids do in Brazil) our fortunes in terms of Soccer would be much different in my opinion.

You can see this vary state-to-state in the U.S. - for instance, all the best athletes in Florida and Texas (we’re talking the 80/20 rule here … this isn’t universally true) grow up wanting to play American football. In Chicago where I live, and Midwestern states like Illinois/Indiana/Iowa — the best athletes gravitate towards basketball.

My favorite example of this is Derrick Rose, who grew up in Chicago and was 6’2” and 200lbs and could run faster and jump higher than anyone around him. If he grew up in Florida, he likely would have ended up in the NFL playing wide receiver instead of being the youngest MVP in NBA history.

I think all questions like this are answered through this lens vs. the macro-genetic lens — which is why they are interesting questions.

Sorry we’re gonna have to agree to disagree. You stick our best athletes in soccer, we’d still be middling, skills and tactics just aren’t good in the US. This is a huge country with great athletes in soccer, but athleticism alone isn’t going to amount to winning. Soccer also wouldn’t suit a lot of tall nba guys, unless you want a lot of Peter Crouches lol