At Sport Witness we’ve been covering the world media for several years, and one thing which stands out with Belgian newspapers is that they love cycling.

There’s usually several cycling stories every single day in Belgium and it often pushes football off the front pages of sport sections. Fortunately, they’re rather good at it and Jan Vertonghen this week got to meet Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet, who DH say is the Tottenham player’s hero.

Both men are from the same region in Belgium and around the same age, and the pair have filmed a fruit advert together.

DH got a chance to speak to Vertonghen about his love of cycling and the defender explained his Tottenham teammates don’t share the hobby: “It’s a lot easier to follow the races now, even on a smartphone, my teammates don’t understand it, when I watch the cyclo-cross World Championships on the bus that brings us to the stadium, they tease me. When I ask them to name me a cyclist, they know Lance Armstrong as the best answer. They do not even know Eddy Merckx! It’s sad because I like watching a race in a group. Sometimes I call my brother on Facetime and we watch the race together but at a distance.”

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Vertonghen revealed he was somewhat put out by Chelsea’s failure to progress in the Champions League because it ruined his chances of watching an important race live: “We play against Chelsea on April 1st, pfft, it’s always the same thing. I cannot come to see the Tour of Flanders live. So if Chelsea had eliminated Barcelona in the Champions League, the league match against us would have been moved to Saturday and I could have come. I would really like to discover the atmosphere in real life. On Saturday, I already missed the arrival of Milan-San Remo because of a flight we had to take to get back from Swansea.”

The Tottenham defender isn’t too unhappy with his lot but it sounds like he wants Mauricio Pochettino to take a hint from a fellow Premier League manager: “Footballers cannot complain, we don’t have to travel that much, and our work days do not last that long, usually we have to be at the club around 9am and we’re back home for 3pm. It’s a good life. The negative point is that we rarely have several days off in a row. Guardiola sometimes offers breaks of 4-5 days to his players but our coach is someone who wants to train hard and a lot.”