When I got chosen for the Euro Cross Camp I wasn’t sure how the whole racing thing would go. I got my chance to see how it went in the Kalmthout World Cup.
The Saturday before Kalmthout the people who got to the camp went out to a farmer's field and did a small local race. Because it was only a local no one had UCI points, or at least not as many as the few Americans in the race.
Bjorn Fox got the hole shot with me in second. We rode like that for the first lap. Once the Belgians got going they caught up with us and I got to ride their wheel. We all only used this race as an opener for the world cup. Bjorn ended up getting 3rd on the day.
On Sunday the juniors left at 5:00 AM for the World Cup. Leaving this early was necessary because there had been a big snowstorm that night, and Belgians freak out when there is ANY snow on the ground. When we got to the course it was still really dark out.
We all got dressed in this little makeshift room in a big industry building on the outskirts of the venue. Once the sun came out we all got to see the course. It was a really fun course; there were lots of icy, slippery switchbacks.
The USA riders were some of the first riders to be out there in the morning. We all went back to the USA tent and started to warm up on the trainers. Once race time came around we all went to the start line, four out to the five riders got third row call-ups.
There were lots of shoulders and elbows being thrown, and I was really surprised that no one went down in the start/finish stretch especially as it had a bit of a bend in it and ended in a paved u-turn, always a recipe for disaster.
Once all the riders hit the snow section it was still crash-free until the first corner. Then all the riders got backed up and then started to run for like 100 meters. When the race got all stretched out it settled down. I ended up 49th.
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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. Expect daily blogs from the riders on their vacation adventures.
Euro Cross Camp VIII Roster
Sean Babcock, 28, (Kona)
Ryan Knapp, 27, (BikeReg.com)
Ryan Iddings, 27, (Redline)
Mitchell Hoke, 23, (Cliff Bar Development Team)
Danny Summerhill, 22, (Garmin-Holowesko)
Jerome Townsend, 22, (BikeReg.com/Joe’s Garage/Scott)
Steve Fisher, 21, (Rad Racing NW/Hagens-Berman)
Chris Hurst, 21, (Unattached)
Joe Schmalz, 21, (KCCX/Verge/Challenge)
Zach McDonald, 20, (Rapha/Focus Cyclocross Team)
Cody Kaiser, 19, (California Giant/Specialized)
Yannick Eckmann, 18, (Hot Tubes Development Team)
Jeff Bahnson, 18, (Van Dessel Factory Team)
Gunnar Bergey, 18, (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes)
Bjorn Fox, 18, (Clif Bar Development Team)
Kolben Preble, 18, (Clif Bar Development Team)
Jeremiah Dyer, 18, (Champion Systems/Cannondale)
Zane Godby, 17, (Clif Bar Development Team)
Cypress Gorry, 17, (WEB-OP)
Andrew Dillman, 17, (Red Zone Cycling)
Euro Cross Camp VIII Race Program (subject to change)
Wednesday-Friday, December 15-17: Riders travel to camp
Saturday, December 18: Lichtervelde
Sunday, December 19: UCI World Cup-Kalmthout
Sunday, December 19: Maldegem
Wednesday, December 22: Team Training Race (Ardooieveld)
Saturday, December 25: Beernem
Sunday, December 26: UCI World Cup-Zolder
Sunday, December 26: Balagem
Monday, December 27: Super Prestige-Diegem
Wednesday, December 29: Azencross GVA-Loenhout
Thursday, December 30: Sylvester Cyclocross-Bredene
Saturday, January 1: GP Sven Nys GVA-Baal
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