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I'll wager she's made more money at her tender age than I've made in all my years of honest labour (age 60.....that's 35+ of 'em) as a dentist.

No European (and yes, despite personal vanities, the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish belong here!) could possibly have any misconceptions about their proposed endevour when they chose biking over and above, say, getting the grades to go to college and do something other than earning enough $$$bucks to retire at age 29

In Europe cycling has historically been the occupation of "bricklayers". Those people for whom school and college are not necessarily an option. Of course, that has changed somewhat in recent years but the fact remains that the life of a professional cyclist is not a rich one except for the very top riders. In fact, it's probably only in the last twenty years that the water-carriers of top tier professional teams started making enough to not have a second job during the off season. Even now when most of them "retire" at an early age it's because they cannot get a new contract and they need to get a supposed real job to survive.

Back to Nicole Cooke, what's with the "honest labour" bit? What a bitter and judgmental thing to say. Take a look at her wikipedia page. She started racing at 11 and won her first women's national title at 16. Considering the money available in women's cycling I seriously doubt that she's set for life. She may be retiring from cycling but my guess is that she's not retiring in the true sense of the word.
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