Why is it that the Dutch girls are so good? I wonder myself. I think that if you look to the Dutch cycling structure you will find some answers.
* In Holland you can start racing from the age of 8. There are 7 youth categories. From 7 till 14 years old you can race is these youth groups. The girls are one year older than the boys in the same category and race together. They learn all they need to learn at young age. Off course starting at very young age will also give a bigger dropout at the age when it all gets serious. But I believe that because of the youth categories we have more woman cyclist than anywhere else in the world.
* After the youth groups, when they go to the juniors they are well observed. The strongest ones are selected and go into the national junior team. They get tested regular and well trained. If they are up to it the National coach let them participate in UCI womans races to learn.
* Once a good elite rider you go the the Topsport group. A group that exist out off the 12 best Dutch riders. This group has many facilities. Most of that group gets paid a salary (after reaching good results first) and lots of training facilities. Like training camps (South Africa, Gran Canaria, Italy etc). But also high quality testing, training guidance, help with nutrition or materials.
I think that these 3 points are really important. A good base and a good guidance are important. Not only for a few years, but for several years. To let them learn and grow. And ones at that highest level the support that is needed to stay there.
Also I do think that the high level brings out the best. As for me, since training with girls like Marianne Vos I did improve a lot. It is not only lots of fun, but necessary to work with athletes on higher levels to get better.
I’ve often wondered why the Dutch are so strong - and I still thing there’s something in their culture that respects girls and women who play sports far more than eg the UK does - but it’s always interesting to read Bras’ thoughts and blogs