Lars Van Der Haar Is Better Sick than Nearly Everyone Else…

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I read a Velonews article last Friday reporting that Lars Van Der Haar couldn’t race the World Cup in Koksijde, Belgium because he still had a fever and that his “doctor” wouldn’t clear him to race.  Then he went on to say maybe he would be okay to race the Super Prestige Race, SP Spa-Francorchamps, on Sunday.  That struck me as screwy.

I’ve personally never been sick enough to skip a race Saturday, especially race like a World Cup Cyclocross, a series Lars is leading, and say I hopefully can race the next day on Sunday.  I assume if I’m too sick to race on Saturday, I would be too sick, or maybe just too weak, to be competitive on Sunday.

So, I was really interested in seeing how Lars did on Sunday.  And really, not to my surprise, he nearly won the race.  Without a last 1/2 lap crash, he looked like he was going to win the race, but he fell and Kevin Pauwels went on to win the race by 15 seconds.

I love cyclocross.  I’ve competed in the sport for decades, way before it was “cool”.  I raced a season in Switzerland, back in the 80’s, when Switzerland was the current Belgium of the sport.  I like to watch the races on the internet better than any other discipline of cycling.   And it is better live.

But, stuff like this just makes the racing seem unreal.  And I’m not that big on trying to convince myself I’m not watching fantasy bike racing.  And that is pretty much what European cyclocross is, fantasy bike racing.

There were a total of 10 finishers in the Belgium Professional National Championships, with 4 DNF’s.  That was 14 guys on the start line.  It ain’t very big.

I wonder if Lars doesn’t think that his actions would be viewed as unusual to others.  Maybe he is one of those guys that recovers incredibly well from illness and that is his experience.  I have no idea when he was good enough to win on Sunday, he wouldn’t start the World Cup the day before to protect his World Cup lead.  Here is a link to watch the sick guy ride and run around in the mud.

Just last month, a doctor in Belgium was charged for treating the blood of a lot (19) of cyclists.  The article goes on to say “the majority famous and semi-famous road and cyclocross riders”.  I  don’t know what percentage of the 19 riders will be cyclocross riders, but even if it’s only 30%, then that is about 1/2 of the starters of the Belgium Nationals last year.

The UCI has turned a blind eye professional cyclocross in Europe. I say in Europe, because there is no professional cyclocross in the United States.  And, even if you classify as our cross as being semi-professional, for a few, we don’t have the issues that are going on over there.  At least, not in such an epidemic state.

Let’s not try to emulate European cross.  We’re doing okay here, having it be a participatory sport.  It is regionally healthy in many places and a blast to do, and a blast to watch.  When it becomes a job is when it starts bringing out the riff-raff.  Let’s leave them to their own little circus.


uciTwo down, 4 to go.





24 thoughts on “Lars Van Der Haar Is Better Sick than Nearly Everyone Else…

  1. Jacob

    Is it possible that not racing Saturday gave him fresher legs, which made the difference on a really heavy course with lots of climbing? I guess I want to believe there’s a chance he didn’t skip Saturday because he was glowing.

  2. Doubting Thomas

    Another mystery illness, what crap. You don’t think doping occurs in US cyclocross? I was just at a race and the 55plus category had guys who looked like the hulk winning and beating many of the younger guys. If there is racing, there is doping – ask the Canadians eh? Or any Trek riders who rode with and for LA – especially the one who led him out in Leadville, works for Trek as a reward, and is back racing and winning after a silent 2 year break. Top ten in US is still doping- in all categories probably…

  3. Mr. Taquito

    That is not even circumstantial evidence. It’s best to not throw much around–I was taught to never say ill of my peers. Now, complaining like that just makes you look like a lazy, whiner. I race road, and I will say it is unbelievable how hard others work in the cat 1/2/3 just to be good on a sunday crit, almost to a fault… good for them.

  4. MV

    I think it said (in dutch media) he was sick earlier in the week and decided not to race saturday after talking to the doc.
    Racing Koksijde (or any) pro race is an assault on your system (you know that).
    You see how careful they are with Van Aert and vd Poel? . You saw how deep they went last week?
    Both skipping the WC race in England this weekend. Superman only exists in comics.
    btw Strange that the us riders focus on the WC (Powers, Compton) only.

  5. Levi

    Well maybe my comments offend some but there’s truth in them, and this is exactly what I said last week. I agree, it’s fantasy cycling (cross racing). But I’m also a huge hypocrite because there is nothing in the sport more exciting to watch than euro cross. Hands down, no competition.

    Slinging mud, or muck isn’t cool, but being ignorant isn’t either. What we’re seeing isn’t real……but the problem is……it’s better. Stybar won worlds last year in a race that was awesome to watch. He beat all the best dopers. Now these guys have skills and balls beyond compare, and I don’t know of any drugs that help with that, but the ability to apply power at every single moment of a race allows you to maneuver through technical aspects more easily. So it helps with that part of it too.

    Back to Stybar, and Boom for that matter. They were the best in Cross. World Champions. Now they race on the road. We’ve established our opinion here that the crossers are all dirty. Then these guys go to the road and have some success but certainly didn’t become insanely successful. My conclusion….road racing in Europe is as dirty as ever. It will never stop. Ever. Vino runs Astana, Riis runs Tinkoff, Vaughters- Garmin, Och- BMC. There are more. We have riders stopping because of sudden heart troubles , (Neils Albert). Others drop dead. Val Verde is one of the big names again. Contador and Froome look guilty as sin too. Boonen, Gilbert, Cancallara, Kittel, Cav, and Sagan can’t possibly be clean.

    Who’s left? TJ? On BMC with Cadel and Gilbert and Ballan and Och…..ya right. Even if he is clean, he’s gotta understand the logic behind suspecting him not to be.

    I think it’s gonna come to be like cross. Just turn a blind eye to it and let it be. That way all the negativity of the doping positives won’t tear the sport down any further. I myself have given up on road racing. It’s the most boring thing to watch with the exception of the spring classics. Break is given a hall pass. Group rides piano for 3 or 4 hours while Phil and Paul butcher another broadcast and talk to us like it’s our 1st time watching a bike race, then they catch the group 5 or 10 k out and sprint it out. Nascar is more interesting!

    Are we really ever gonna be able to stop doping in sports, when we as a human race, have a blood thirst for more more more? We’re not that far from “Running Man” as a society. Look in the theatres right now. Whats the most popular movie (trilogy) for young people right now. Hunger Games. The wildly popular books turned into film where children are forced to fight and kill each other. It’s glorified with actual Rock Stars and a circus like futuristic theme. That is what excites. Sad, but true. It seems to me like steroids and peds would fit right into that scenario.

    It’s just like euro cross with a few differences, instead of playing for lives, they play for big money. Millions if you can go a few years with some wins in every season. Why wouldn’t these kids take that chance? It’s like hitting the lottery. If they don’t make it, they’ll likely be in those same turnip fields working til the day they die. The public in Belgium understand, if the riders take a little something in order to come out and perform, and entertain like they do, well then that’s simply a private matter. Exactly the way the public views steroids in football in this country. We say “so what” and “how could they not take a little juice”? We just want to be entertained. Its ALL wrestling. No pro sports are clean. NONE. But they sure are fun to watch this way…..

  6. S

    Most doctors do not suggest performing intense aerobic activity with a fever and now he is all of a sudden a doper. I’m not in any position to know if he is or not, but this is a legitimate excuse in my book.

  7. Michael

    Coincidence that they have a Dr.’s list with 19 names on it in Belgium and all the sudden this season is the year of new and up and comers? Are the old guard racing a bit cleaner now that the pharmacy is about to hit the fan?

  8. Dillon

    I had the opportunity to go to Koksijde last weekend, and while it was a great experience, I do prefer an east coast C2 race! It might be a cultural thing, but most people either looked totally wasted or unexcited to be there. The fun friendly atmosphere in the US now seems more unique than I expected. It is awesome!

  9. pierre de sommières

    hey steve ! you’re right , maybe there ‘s a problem!
    steve what do you think bout the “velon project”?

  10. Franc

    For Levi,
    The quality of life in Belgium is as good or better than it is for most Americans. So, nobody is going back to any turnip fields. Or any dark and dreary factory like so many of you Americans say. Life in europe and Belgium is much better than you have it in many ways. Unless you have been here, you should keep quiet and not base your ignorant opinions on innuendo.

    How do you know so much about drugs and dope within cyclesport? Are you a rider who has personal experience? Do you take the drugs yourself? Are you friends with a doper, or are you a supplier? Or are you merely citing unfounded gossip again? Are you a rider at all?

    Your ignorance about cycling and sport is evident by your comments about Boom and Stybar. Yes, both have dominated in cyclocross and have become champions and both have turned to the road to further the career. Boom has already been successful at the highest level and so has Stybar. Do they dominate as they did in cyclocross? No. No one dominates the road in that manner because road racing is a different sport. The peloton is 198 riders. There are teams that ride as teams. Cyclocross is more individual and is similar to motor racing in the team aspect. Cyclocross races are one hour. Road races are sometimes seven hours with 3k meters of climbing. These differences are large and require years of training to reach the highest level. Boom and Stybar have shown themselves to be extremely talented athletes and are very rare. Most cyclocross riders cannot do the distances of road racing effectively.

    Is there doping in cyclocross? Most likely as the past gives us a good window to see the present. The riders are people and people unfortunately take the low road at times. Do you really believe that you americans are pure like snow?? That americans do not take drugs? For sports? For fun? The USA has the biggest drug appetite in the world! It is fact! If the USA hunger for drugs did not exist, drug cartels would be broke! The rest of the world knows the truth. Why do you not see these facts? Americans drug as much or more than anyone. This includes all cyclocross and road racing in USA. Drugs are very easy to obtain in USA. It has been proven. To believe otherwise is an admittance of ignorance. To say otherwise is ridiculous. You can be sure there is plenty of dope within the usa cyclocross culture. Do not fool yourself.

    There are also clean and honest racers in USa. There are also clean and honest racers in Belgium and rest of europe. Why don’t you take a trip here and prove yourself Levi? We don’t talk sh*t. We ride. Hopefully I see you at the cross. I doubt you will make the effort.

  11. Rider

    This is a true statement. If you race or train hard with a simple infection, it can go into your heart and cause serious damage and even kill you. This happened to a friend who was a very talented and promising XC mountainbiker in his early 20’s. Absolutely top tier. He raced when sick and the sickness went into his heart and caused very serious damage. It ended a promising career and if he had continued, he could have died. He never raced again. He was not a doper and was never a doper. This is often what has happened when you read about otherwise healthy cyclists dying of heart issues. It is not always drugs.

    We are often taught to be tough, rub some dirt in it and keep going. Unforunately, that attitude can be deadly when you are talking about the heart. It is always wise to see the doctor when sick. Did you know that in many countries, you cannot get a racing license until you are cleared by a doctor? Why doesn’t USA Cycling require that?

  12. Levi


    Did I say I was an American? I certainly don’t think Americans are pure as snow or innocent. Actually I think America is disgusting. They produce very little of the world’s resources, yet they consume most of them. More than any other country by leaps and bounds. They butt their nose into every single skirmish in the world, often escalating it and getting their young men and women killed in the process. The two party system, where they just point fingers at each other while the country swirls the drain is a fucking joke!

    If you really wanna see some disgusting shit, come to America and walk through a Wal-Mart or any public place really. You will see the most fat, disgusting, uneducated, bad attitude, lazy, slobs you will ever see. Sucking soda through a straw from a friggen bucket of soda in one hand, with an iPhone in the other as they waddle along making no effort to get out of people’s way. Ya America is a real treat! This isn’t everyone, but there’s way more of that than anywhere else in the world.

    Drugs? Americans by far lead that category. But drugs in Cycling? Ya, Europe dominates that field my friend. Don’t change the subject. You even admit theres probably drugs in cross now. Your evidence….”the past is a window to the present”. No Shit Sherlock Holmes. It’s OK for you to derive that opinion but not me?

    Lets just wait and see whose names are on this list of 19. Ozone infused into the blood, then redeposited back into the guinea pig, ahmm athlete. This just shows that there is always some next thing that the dopers and their Dr.s will try to stay ahead of the vampires. It will never stop!

    Quality of life the same in Europe? Sure maybe Europe, but not Belgium. Not for the commoners. Yes, I have been there, many times. Yes I raced the cross. Yes I kicked your ass. No I’m not a doper.

    Oh by the way, I’m pretty sure some of those 7 hour races have 10k of climbing, not just 3k. How can you be so uninformed? You know what helps with that sort of race? Ya, drugs. Are they easy to obtain in the US? How do you know that? Are you there buying them? Can you just drive a couple hours to Switzerland and buy epo over the counter, no questions asked? Oh wait, that’s Europe isn’t it tough guy? You don’t talk shit huh? F-You idiot!

  13. eric

    Levi- you’re aggressively cynical, small minded, and ignorant regarding your comments about America. What great contribution to global quality of life is your country providing?
    Regardless of it’s state of decline, the USA still is the most scientifically productive country by a wide margin, resulting in countless benefits to the global community. A majority of the medicines and technologies you enjoy now and will enjoy for the rest of your life have been/or are being subsidized by the American public.

  14. Franc Bartrell

    Lot of anger and bad info on this site. After reading these posts, I would have to say that many are actually written by the same extremely opinionated and uneducated troll Levi. Not only are his opinions only that, but he is putting them out there as the truth. Very negative person and I think we can also assume he has never been to Belgium or anywhere outside of his mom’s basement. There is no such thing as “commoners” in Belgium. It is a democratic country very similar to the usa with a higher standard of living. How do I know? I am Belgian.

    it is a pity that this enjoyable blog is polluted by this kind of trash. For the record, is there doping within all forms of cycling? Of course, it is a proven fact. No one disputes that. A better question is why is someone like Levi so obsessed with drugs and doping? Do you not have a life worth living? Also, I meant to write 3k METERS of climbing, and not simply 3k.

  15. BG

    Belgian or not, that was very well said. Seriously, we all love Belgium and please don’t let one person ruin your view of us Americans and our country. That guy does not speak for everyone. Let’s ride!


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