Euro 'Cross Camp Director Geoff Proctor has announced the roster for the seventh edition of the annual cyclo-cross camp that will run through late December and early January. This year, seven juniors, eight under-23 and three elite racers will make the journey to train and race over the Christmas and New Year's holidays in Europe. Of those, just seven are returning Euro 'Cross campers.
"It's such a rewarding experience for me to work with these guys," said Proctor. "I always have a lot of demand, and I can't accommodate everyone. We usually have between 16 and 19 riders. I have 18 this year."
The riders will stay at the Under-23 House in Izegem, Belgium, and take advantage of all the infrastructure of the US Under-23 national road program run by Noel Dejonckheere. "Noel has helped me all along. He's an important cog in the wheel."
Proctor once again faced the traditional challenge of picking this year's crop of campers. "How I pick depends on the category. With the elite men, it's tricky because you don't know who is interested. Overall, the camp is a development camp, but I like to take elite guys who add credibility and experience and help the younger guys. I look at how they've done in races, especially the International Cycling Union (UCI) races."
Among the elites, both Brian Matter (Team Gear Grinder) and Troy Wells (Team Clif Bar) have attended the camp in the past, but Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com / Joe's Garage / IF) is new to the elite roster. "A guy like Justin Lindine is still off the radar," said Proctor, "but he's just 26, and an experience like this can change the trajectory of a rider's career."
This season, Matter won the Ore to Shore and the Chequamegon Fat Tire Fest mountain bike races in late 2009, and achieved his first top-10 at the USGP 'cross in Louisville. Wells, who is the brother of pro mountain biker Todd Wells, finished fourth at the Cinncinati 'cross, fifth in Boulder and sixth at the Star Crossed, while Lindine was second at the Cat and Kitten Cross, second at the DownEast 'Cross and third at the Green Mountain 'Cross - all UCI C2 events.
Referring to the under-23s and the juniors, Proctor added, "With the younger group, I work with them at Worlds, and I look at how they're doing and how they're planning. My biggest priority is to help these guys learn how to plan their seasons. They all race other disciplines, and I want them to have matches left to burn for cyclo-cross. I pay attention to what they're doing on the road, mountain bike and track. I don't look at their early season results because I want them to be strong later. I look at their results starting with the end of October. I look at where they are, what races they are doing, what they're like."
"I try to pick kids who will get selected for Worlds, but we don't know who that will be yet because we haven't had two selection races, the USGP Portland and US Nationals. The Mercer USGP was the first selection race. The only other way someone can make it to Worlds is through a top-five finish at a World Cup."
Proctor is happy to see under-23 campers Danny Summerhill (Felt-Holowesko Partners - Garmin) and Zack McDonald (Stevens / Classic Cycle) return to the camp. "They have some top national and international results." Summerhill was sixth at the USGP Mercer and second at the team trial at the Univest Grand Prix Road Race. In recent months McDonald has finished ninth at both the Blue Sky Velo Cup and the USGP Mercer and 15th at the Boulder Cup.
"We've also got a strong crop of juniors. We have a lot of first years; only three of seven are second year juniors. That's great because they'll be around next year." Of the juniors, Proctor highlighted the accomplishments of David Kessler, who is the junior 15-16 US national road champion. He's spent time racing the road in Belgium including taking a first place in stage one of the Bicycle Tour of West Vlaanderen. Chris Wallace is also a returning junior. He was first at the Grand Prix of Gloucester and second during both days of the USGP Mercer Cup this fall.
Proctor is big on helping his campers with intelligent approaches to racing and training. "They are a captive audience while at the Euro 'Cross Camp. They have no distractions, and there is lots of face time, so I can work with them. They can get how they can be fresh for Europe and Worlds. We can teach them how to pick their races for performance and how to train through other races."
"International competition in doses is really healthy, but it's important to not kill yourself with all the travel. To me, that's the biggest difference between our riders and European riders. Our riders see how much the Europeans are racing and they think they have to race that much, but it's not the same when you put the travel component in there. The Belgian 'cross guys are racing a lot, but they are sleeping in their own bed every night. That's a different scenario."
For the first time, a non-US citizen will be joining the camp. Yannick Eckmann, a German riding for the Clif Bar Development Team will attend. Proctor explained his inclusion. "He's going to be an American rider when he becomes an Under 23 rider and gets his US citizenship. We need to develop him now. His family lives in Boulder, Colorado, and he's the best junior in the US. Because the camp is private and not a USA Cycling camp I was able to include him, although this is a special case."
The Euro 'Cross Camp is yet to host any women campers, though Proctor says there's no reason for them not to participate. "I'm always interested in bringing women, too, but I haven't been able to find them. I want people to understand it's not a male-only camp. One of these years I hope to bring a couple of women, too."
Another goal of the camp is to provide some financial support for the riders in attendance. "The biggest stone left to uncover with this program is financial support. I have some leads, but I haven't been able to get funding for the camp's tuition yet. All the riders have help from clubs, parents, friends, etc., but I'd like to help with that burden at some point."
Over the years the Euro 'Cross Camp has proven to have played an important role in increasing the breadth of many campers' cycling experience. For many of the riders, cyclo-cross will not be their ultimate path and while Proctor says he could focus on that and get discouraged, he is happy to help his riders succeed in cycling generally.
"You can look at developing cyclo-cross racers as inherently flawed because I'm always going to lose to mountain biking or road racing," said Proctor. "Look at Bjorn Selander. He was on Trek-LiveStrong this year, and now he signed for RadioShack and he's a road pro. That's just the lay of the land. I can argue that all of these guys are better bike racers because of the time they spent in Europe racing 'cross."
Campers will arrive as early as Saturday, December 19, in time for that weekend's World Cup race in Kalmthout. Others will be there in time for the Noordzeecross in Middelkerke, Belgium the following Wednesday. Racers may stay with the camp as long as Sunday, January 3. Some will continue on in Europe through worlds, and others may return to school and training in the United States in the intervening weeks.
"There is always one or two who will make the World team but not do the Camp, and they'll come over later," said Proctor.
For those interested, Geoff Proctor will co-host a question-and-answer session with USA Cycling's Mark Gullickson for younger riders interested in cyclo-cross and the Euro 'Cross Camp on the Friday, December 11 at 3:00 pm local time during the weekend of the US Cyclo-Cross Nationals in Bend, Oregon.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for an upcoming blog from the Euro 'Cross campers.
A full race program and roster are listed below:
|December 19 - Lichtervelde (national-level race for juniors, under 23s, elites)|
|December 20 - Kalmthout World Cup (CDM for elites only, but other categories racing, too)|
|December 23 - Noordzeecross, Middelkerke (C1)|
|December 26 - Zolder World Cup (CDM for all categories)|
|December 26 - Beernem (national-level race for juniors, under 23s, elites)|
|December 27 - Diegem Super Prestige (C1 for juniors, under 23s, elites)|
|December 29 - Azencross, Loenhout GVA Trophee (C1 for elites, juniors, under 23s, elites)|
|January 1 - GP Sven Nys, Baal GVA Trophee (C1 for elites and under 23s)|
|January 2 - GP de Ster, St Niklaas (C2)|
|January 3 - GP Groenendaal, St Michielgestel (C2)|
|Troy Wells (Durango, Colorado, USA) Team Clif Bar|
|Brian Matter (Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA) Team Gear Grinder|
|Justin Lindine (Maplecrest, New York, USA) BikeReg.com/Joe's Garage/IF|
|Danny Summerhill (Centennial, Colorado, USA) Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin|
|Zach McDonald (Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA) Stevens/Classic Cycle|
|Jerome Townsend (Princeton, Massachusetts, USA) BikeReg.com/Joe's Garage/IF|
|Steve Fisher (Bellingham, Washington, USA) Rad Racing NW/Hagens Berman|
|Travis Livermon (Winterville, North Carolina, USA) Champion System/Cannondale|
|Josh Berry (Portland, Oregon, USA) Unattached|
|Joe Dombrowski (Marshall, Virginia, USA) Haymarket Bicycles/HomeVisit|
|Joseph Schmalz (Lawrence, Kansas, USA) KCCX/Verge|
|Chris Wallace (Shawnee, Kansas, USA) KCCX/Navigators Ins./Verge|
|Skyler Trujillo (Fort Collins, Colorado, USA) Black Sheep Jr. Cycling|
|Jeff Bahnson (Newark, Delaware, USA) Thule/Van Dessel|
|Matt Spinks (Layton, New Jersey, USA) Team Plan C CX/Stevens|
|Yannick Eckmann (Boulder, Colorado, Germany) Clif Bar Development Team|
|David Kessler (Littleton, Colorado, USA) Clif Bar Development Team|
|Josh Lehmann (Weare, New Hampshire, USA) Sunapee/S&W/Continental Paving|