I'd also like to share the article of the Belang van Limburg with you. Zonhoven is in Limburg so it's more complete.
On the first scan it's the same article as in the Nieuwsblad, plus one article about Quinten Hermans winning the U23 race (Quinten is also a Limburger
) along with other results of Limburgers in youth categories: Pieter-Jan Vliegen 4th with the juniors and Ryan Cortjens and Michael Bervoets 4th and 5th in the novice categories.
But then there was an article about the spectators. They noticed a huge amounts of flags and banners of fan-clubs for many riders but neither for Wout Van Aert nor for Mathieu Van der Poel, there were some for Tom Meeusen, Kevin Pauwels, Laurens Sweeck or Lars Van der Haar. The author concluded that it was the Belgian thought: "Let's just cheer for the underdogs".
First pic is René Francken and his grandson Joeri. They had been standing on the den "De Kuil" [which is a cleaned former waste dump
] since 9.00am. They "claimed" a piece of land with flags. René is rooting for Pauwels and Joeri for Meeusen, a situation that led to a lot of laughters.
Being crazy doesn't kill, does it? It's already been a few years since I've been a Pauwels fan: simplicity on the bike. His victories in Namur and Francorchamps were wonderful. And do you know the great thing about this? Going to the podium with those flags and know that you have the winner in your hands.
says René with a colourful Pauwels hat on the head.
Joeri is amusingly listening to his grampa his words.
Meeusen's win in Loenhout last year was great. Back then he almost took my heart.
Kid, back then they've all let Meeusen go
And that's how the end up in everlasting discussion.
Joeri's father claims that it got so serious that Joeri sometimes has nightmeres that something can occur to Tom.
On picture 2 you have the Everaert family of Eecklo (in East-Flanders) who have a Lars Van der Haar flag but the son Warre has a Laurens Sweeck cap. Actually he's a supporter of both Lars and Laurens. He loves riding himself and once asked Van der Haar if after his career could borrow his bike but Lars did not get in on this request (laughs).
His sister Kato is full of admiration for Van der Haar:
He's friendly, fun, young, handsome, ... and really good. The European championship was his greatest performance.
Father Malik confirms:
Lars is a nippy rider. The way he starts of is always fantastic. The funniest of it all is that we missed the Euro championship because we thought it was something else. Silly, isn't it?
Having seen Lars several times in real life I can just confirm that he's a really good man besides being a great cyclist. He's always smiling, if you read his twitter, he's always joking, most of all about himself and his small height. A rider of our heart. And his interviews are always a treat, he doesn't beat around the bush. I remember a small report about him before Meulebeke that was, I think. He was training and passed by a former WWII line, lol it made me laugh that he also seemed cultured. The Sporza commentators also seem to like him. Mick Wuyts constantly and affectionately referred to "Little Lars" during the last Worlds.
I'm glad to see that Belgians have adopted him. Of course for some posters antagonisms between Belgium and Netherlands remain. I remember how Lars was thrown beer at at the last Worlds. I was ashamed of my country when I saw that but I have the weakness to believe they are just a small minority. Lars' goodness transcends borders, I think or hope.
Picture 3 is far from the den. Erik Joors & Johnny Luyten with a band of Laurens Sweeck fans, with a great banner. Erik Joors became a Sweeck fan after Nys retired, so this season. He claims that Nys and Sweeck are the same kind of people, sympathetic, classy and who have always had to do everything by themselves. Johnny has been following Sweeck's performances since the junior category [me too, but not as closely probably
]. He says he needs time to adapt but then can come back on top in his own way [hard to translate that final bit]