First World Cup and a visit from Sven Nys

Cooper Willsey inspired by reigning world champion

On Sunday me and my fellow campers raced our very first World Cup in Namur. This was also our first race in Europe and it proved to be a tough opener. Most of our juniors encountered bad luck with crashes or mechanicals but we all gained valuable experience from racing at the highest level of the sport.

For those who don’t know, Namur is a very hard course. Combine the technical muddy drops and off-camber sections with the elevation gain every lap and running sections, it was a course that was above and beyond what many of us had ever raced. Even the camera’s perspective doesn’t do the course justice. Behind the camera is also one of the most beautiful cyclo-cross venues with a huge, old castle built atop a large hill that rises above the town. A spectacular sight which is often overlooked.

We awoke Monday morning with our first race behind us. We settled back into the routine of cleaning and fixing our equipment as well as ourselves. But unknown to us was a truly special day ahead. Once we finished our light training we gathered for a short meeting with our director Mr. Proctor. He told us that later that day the 2013 Cyclo-cross World Champion, Sven Nys, would be coming to the house to answer our questions and sign autographs! To have this opportunity was incredible and we all owe a huge thank you to Geoff for setting it up for our benefit. It was also extremely nice of Sven, who is quite a busy man, to take time out of his day to come down and talk with us.

Sven stayed at the house for around an hour answering our questions about everything cyclo-cross: training, eating, tactics, etc. Sven finished his stay by signing our Euro CX Camp tee-shirts and taking a picture with us. Spending that time with the World Champion was something I will never forget, it was very special and not many aspiring junior racers get such a chance.

We are now gearing up for our second World Cup race on Thursday in Zolder. Zolder will be an even bigger scene than Namur with more spectators and a very challenging course. After what we learned from Sven I believe that everyone will be putting that much more focus into their preparation for the World Cup. I am positive that we will have a better showing at Zolder as we are both more mentally and physically prepared than before!

Finally, I would love to thank those who have helped me get the chance to race and be here in Belgium. A few huge thank yous go out to my parents, my coach Jake and to all those in my local cycling community. I would also like to specifically thank David White from White + Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors. I have known him for many years and he has really helped with the costs of my trip to Belgium.

Thanks for reading!

Cooper Willsey

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