This year's Euro 'Cross Camp will feature a total of 20 riders including four elite, seven under 23 and nine junior cyclo-cross racers. Some of the riders are veterans of previous camps while others are new.
It is the eighth year that Camp Director Geoff Proctor is taking young (mostly) American cyclo-crossers over to Europe to gain more experience racing in and near Belgium. The opportunity gives them the chance to experience cyclo-cross at its highest level with races at two World Cups. They'll also get to compete in several national-level events.
"Domestic racing is great, but you still have to go to Europe for the highest levels. If you want to be the best in the world, you have to go race the best," said Proctor, who is a school teacher in Montana. He's also a member of the UCI's Cyclo-cross Commission.
Riders will arrive on Thursday or Friday, December 16 or 17 and depart just after the New Year.
Below, we introduce you to each of the Euro 'Cross Campers for 2010-2011. To find out more about Euro 'Cross Camp, including a competition schedule, read this recent article on Cyclingnews and stay tuned for a blog from the Euro 'Cross Campers detailing their experiences abroad.
Hometown: Corvallis, Oregon
Babcock is following in the footsteps of Erik Tonkin, who recently gave him his position on the Kona cyclo-cross team.
"Over the last four years, Erik has recited countless Euro 'Cross Camp stories during our early morning training rides. It is time to turn this image that Erik has created into reality," said Babcock. "I'm excited to compete on the best courses, amongst the strongest riders, and in the heartland of cyclo-cross culture."
Babock still receives significant support from his previous team, Sellwood Cycle Repair, Erik Tonkin's shop.
It'll be his first time at Euro 'Cross Camp, and he's hoping to build on some strong results from so far this season including a sixth at Kross-toberfest, 11th at the Colorado 'Cross Classic, 13th at the USGP Planet Bike Cup #2 and 14th at the Boulder Cup Cyclo-cross.
Hometown: Evergreen, Colorado
Team: ClifBar Development 'Cross Team
Hoke is the youngest of the elite men attending Euro 'Cross camp, so it should come as no surprise that it will be his first time at the camp.
"I'm stoked to be going," said Hoke. "I have been over (to Europe) a couple times for mountain biking. This will be way fun to get in seven or eight races in two and a half weeks."
"It looks like a fun group of guys to hang out with as well, which is always important on a Euro trip."
Hoke, who excels at hard courses and steep and muddy courses, should be in his element in Europe.
Fresh off a 17th place finish at day to of the USGP in Portland, Hoke has also finished 10th and 12 at Jingle 'Cross days 1 and 3, 12th at Java Johnny's in Cinncinati, 21st at the USGP in Fort Collins and 28th at Cross Vegas.
After the camp, Hoke will "meet up with some friends in Eastern Europe for some much needed off the bike time".
Hometown: Enumclaw, Washington
For Iddings, Euro 'Cross Camp is like an investment in his 'cross career. "I'm going to cross camp to gain experience racing with the fastest cross racers in the world," he said. "I'm hoping this will benefit me in future seasons."
He is heading to Euro 'Cross Camp for his first time. The trip comes after a 10th place at day 2 of Jingle 'Cross and 11th at day 3 of Jingle 'Cross.
Hometown: Bloomington, Indiana
Knapp is eagerly anticipating his first Euro 'Cross Camp.
"I'm looking forward to racing with and learning from the best riders in the sport and watching the details that have helped them be so successful," said the Midwesterner.
"I know that this trip will be a mentally and physically demanding, but I feel very lucky and motivated to have this opportunity to learn and grow as a cyclo-cross racer."
The elite rider had racked up several podium finishes this year including third at three races: the Beacon 'Cross and both rounds of the North Carolina Grand Prix (#1 and #2). He also finished fifth at the Charm City Cyclo-cross and 11th at the USGP Planet Bike Cup #1.
Under 23 men
Hometown: Bellingham, Washington
Team: Rad Racing NW/ Hagens-Berman
Fisher is heading back to Belgium for his fourth Euro 'Cross Camp.
"I'm most looking forward to focusing on the bigger races this year, and I'm hoping to get some good results in those," he said.
So far this season, Fisher has finished eighth at day 1 of the Granogue 'Cross, ninth at day 2 of the Granogue 'Cross, 12th at day 1 in Providence and 15th at Starcrossed.
Hometown: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Hurst is not only heading to Euro 'Cross Camp for the first time, but it will also be his first time competing in Europe.
"I'm very excited to attend the camp and experience European cyclo-cross racing," said Hurst.
So far this season, the unattached racer finished second in both days of competition at Whitmore's Supercross Cup, 14th at day 2 of the Jingle 'Cross Rock, 21st at the New Belgium Cup USGP and 26th at the Colorado 'Cross Classic.
Hometown: El Dorado Hills, California
Team: California Giant Berry Farms / Specialized
New to the Under 23 category, Kaiser will be returning to Europe to compete for the third time.
"I am looking forward to racing the U23 category over there. Being a first year, I am just trying to get as many pennies in the bank as possible for future racing both in the states and Europe," said Kaiser.
"I am really looking forward to having a good time and being a force over there rather than just riding the race."
Kaiser hopes to build on some successful results from the rest of his season, including a third and a fourth place at the Louisville USGP, a third and a fourth at the Fort Collins USGP and a fourth place at the Madison USGP #1.
Hometown: Bainbridge, Washington
Team: Rapha / Focus Cyclo-cross Team
Zach McDonald is only 20, but he's a long-time Euro 'Cross Camp veteran. It'll be his fourth year at the camp.
Fresh off sixth and 11th places at this weekend's USGP races in Portland, McDonald has two other top 10 finishes in the USGP and is 10th overall in the standings. Though still an Under 23, all those results are elite results.
When asked what he was looking forward to most about the upcoming camp, he joked, "Jim TV or bike racing, I haven't decided yet."
Hometown: Lawrence, Kansas
Team: KCCX/Verge pb Challenge
Schmalz is back for his second Euro 'Cross Camp. "I'm looking forward to building on my experience from last year and using it to have some better results this year."
Schmalz finished third in both days of Under 23 racing at the Planet Bike USGP and 12th in the second day of the LA 'Cross.
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Summerhill's name should be a familiar one for Euro 'Cross Camp followers. "I believe this is my sixth camp," said the veteran. I am very happy and excited to be included on such an amazing camp and learning experience."
Summerhill has logged some good results so far this season including a first and a fifth at the Krosstoberfest weekend of racing, a sixth and a ninth at the Boulder Cup weekend of racing and most recently, a 10th and 12th at the USGP weekend in Portland.
"I'm looking forward to learning how to race aggressively again - sprinting out of every corner, and learning new skills that I can bring back home," said Summerhill.
The young racer commented on what the camps have meant to him. "[Camp Director] Geoff Proctor puts his heart in to every one of these camps, trying to make it the best learning and growing experience for each and every one of the campers!"
"It's very cool to be in and around people that are so passionate to help you and the sport grow, and I feel I owe much of my success in the sport of cyclo-cross to him and the camps he puts on."
Hometown: Princeton, Massachusetts
Team: BikeReg.com / Joe's Garage / Scott
Townsend is also a returning Euro 'Cross Camper. It will be his third trip. "I'm going to use my experience from my last five trips to Europe to really make a diffference at the front of the races," he said.
Townsend has warmed up his legs this season with a fourth place at the Green Mountain 'Cross, a sixth at the Providence 'Cross festival day 1 and a fourth at the HPCX 'cross.
"I am looking forward to making some lasting impressions with my last Euro camp as an U23. Having just been to Europe, with the help USA Cycling, the differences between US and Euro racing are much closer to the front of my mind, and I feel that when I return in two weeks, I will be able to fall right back into where I left off instead of having to remember everything from the past January. This will make all the difference in the world when starting races such as Kalmtout, and Zolder." Both venues are again hosting World Cups.
Hometown: Newark, Delaware
Team: Van Dessel Factory Team
Bahnson is returning for his second year of Euro 'Cross Camp. "I'm looking forward to some real 'cross weather," he said.
The Delaware racer won both days of the Grand Prix Gloucester, was second place both days at the Granogue 'Cross and the Fort Collins USGP - all in junior races, and he won the elite men's race at the Fair Hill 'Cross.
This past weekend, he finished second at both rounds of the USGP in Portland.
Hometown: Schwenksville, Pennsylvania
Team: C3-Athletes Serving Athletes
Euro 'Cross Camper Bergey is eagerly anticipating his first camp experience. "I'm looking forward to getting to experience the whole different style of racing Europe entails," he said.
"I can't wait for the awesome experience of getting to travel to different countries, racing in them and meeting the people that live there."
Bergey has logged several top 10 finishes this season in both junior and elite races. He was fourth and sixth in the Granogue weekend of racing among the juniors, fourth at the USGP in Louisville and sixth at the USGP in Fort Collins. At Fair Hill, he finished ninth among the elite men.
Hometown: Fairdale, Kentucky
Team: Red Zone Cycling
Dillman has participated in a junior 15-16 summer road camp with Geoff Proctor in 2009, but this winter is the first time he's been invited to Euro 'Cross Camp.
"I am looking forward to racing on the very technically challenging courses in Europe," said Dillman, who is also anticipating a chance to race at the World Cups and against a much more competitive junior field than in the US.
"This will be a great opportunity to improve my skills. This has been my biggest goal throughout the road and 'cross season so I'm really glad I got invited and can't wait to get there and race."
His five best results so far this season have included finishing third both days at the Louisville USGP, fourth and fifth in the two days of racing at the Colorado USGP and a fourth at the Granogue 'Cross.
Hometown: Valdese, North Carolina
Team: Champion-Systems/Cannondale p/b: Infinity Medical
"I'm proud to be the first junior rider selected from North Carolina (or from any southern state)," said Dyer of his first Euro 'Cross Camp experience coming up. "I also realize that if it weren't for the NCCX and MSG guys who brought cyclo-cross to the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, there's no way I’d even have this opportunity."
"As I took a quick look at the previous seven years of Euro Cross Camp rosters, I saw that most juniors have traditionally come from regions in the US with pretty well-established 'cross communities, such as New England, the Pacific Northwest, Colorado and the Midwest. I'd like to thank those who did the groundwork before me. I hope I make them proud and represent the Appalachian 'cross crowd well while across the pond."
Dyer has logged four top-10 placings in UCI junior races such as both days at Granogue and both days in Fort Collins.
"I'm looking forward to learning from Geoff Proctor who's taken quite a few American kids in my position and given them a real understanding in what it takes to get to the next step."
Hometown: Boulder, Colorado
Team: Hot Tubes Cycling Team
Eckmann may be the best known junior racing off road on the US circuit. He's been topping podiums consistently in mountain biking and cyclo-cross, and in the latter, he is undefeated in the USGP series.
It will be the German's second time at Euro 'Cross Camp. "I went last year and had a lot of fun. I am looking forward to all the great racing over there, and to get my form even in better shape for Worlds in January," he said.
"And I want to enjoy the racing over in Europe as much as possible since you don't get that opportunity all the time."
Eckmann's other top results this season include eighth at the World Cup in Koksijde, fifth at a Super Prestige in Holland and first in a local Pro/1/2 race.
Hometown: Stinson Beach, California (but currently residing in Incline Village, Nevada)
Team: Clif Bar Development Cross Team
Nationality: USA & Sweden (Born in Bad Soden, Germany)
Headed to his first Euro 'Cross Camp, Fox said, "I am looking forward to racing in new and exciting places. It will be sweet to have a group of people there to ride with and learn from."
Fox won the men's A race at the Monkey Cross #2, finished second in the men's A race at the Sacramento Cyclo-cross #2 and was third in the USGP New Belgium Cup day 2 and the USGP Planet Bike Cup day 1 - both in the junior races. He is also the NCNCA District Champion in the Junior 17-18 category.
Age: 16 (Racing age 17)
Hometown: Louisville, Colorado
Team: Clif Bar Development Team
Godby is travelling to Europe for the first time.
"I want to learn a lot from all of the faster, more experienced European riders. Also, this camp will be a good place to gain experience to go faster at the national level, and hopefully the world level," he said.
This past weekend, Godby finished fourth and seventh in the two days of racing at the USGP in Portland. He's also finished second in both days of racing at the Boulder Cup and was third on day 1 of racing at teh USGP in Fort Collins.
Hometown: Payson, Arizona
Gorry is another Euro 'Cross Camp first timer. The Arizona rider said he appreciates the support of his family, his team and his church community in helping him get this opportunity.
"I am looking forward to racing on the very technically challenging courses in Europe. This will be a great opportunity to improve my skills," he said.
Gorry won the SoCal 'Cross day 2 junior race and the open men's race at the Arizona 'Cross. He was third in the Boulder Cup, fourth in day two of racing at the Fort Collins Cup and fourth in the Colorado 'Cross Class - all in the junior category.
Hometown: Forest Grove, Oregon
Team: Clif Bar Development
Fresh of a seventh and 10th place at the USGP in Portland, Preble is anticipating his first-ever Euro 'Cross Camp.
"I'm looking forward to gaining more experiences and skill toward being the best rider and human being that I can be," he said.
Preble is the Junior 17-18 Oregon state Cyclo-cross champion. He was second at the Rad Racing GP, fifth at the Colorado 'Cross Classic and seventh and eight in the two days of racing at the USGP in Fort Collins.
Preeble wanted to send a message to all of his supporters. "Thanks to the Clif Bar Team, my parents and coaches, and everyone else who helped me get to were I am now."