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Kortrijk, magical Kortrijk...

Most of the pundits had Zach MacDonald (Rapha Focus) as the pre-race favorite

Most of the pundits had Zach MacDonald (Rapha Focus) as the pre-race favorite (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/

So yesterday we rode to Kortrijk. I'm sure there is a new reader out there who hasn't discovered the wonders that Kortrijk can provide and the ease of our access to it.

Kortrijk is a mere 20 minutes away by bicycle and holds a plethora of coffee shops, retail outlets and a Pizza Hut... so, if you haven't actually read about what Kortrijk has in store for us riders fortunate enough to spend time in the magical Izegem riders' house, I would highly suggest that you navigate that mouse of yours to the archive button and take a look back in time at the 20 or so previous Kortrijk write ups.

If you did notice the fact that I described the house as magical, then you should read on, as I'm sure that only prolonged the literary thirst that you desire. The magic certainly burns throughout the entire house but, when the riders go to sleep and the activity dwindles, it can still be seen smoldering in a few special places.

For me, the epicentre of the magic can be found in room 'x'. When one climbs their way up the creaky stairs and turns the corner they are quickly greeted by a closed door concealing an unlit hallway, continuing down the hall they are transported to another world. Instantly, a calming wave encapsulates the body thanks to the matte gray paint that graces the hallway. As the door shuts, the feeling is deepened even more as the chatter of surrounding rooms is erased.

Fumbling for the door handle at the end of the passage the relaxation is replaced by anticipation. What could be on the other side of the final door? As the smooth cold handle turns and the clicking of the latch and thrust of the door reveals light surging through the dual windows illuminating every corner of the room. Who knew Belgium could provide so much light?

The experience continues in the morning as dawn approaches the house. Riders awake at unheard of hours such as five and six in the morning when their bodies cannot handle the time change and loudly stumble their way down the stairs, awaking those around them in their hope to secure one of the few yogurts in the fridge.

Their obnoxious clamour doesn't reach every corner of the house, however. Thankfully, the fortress that is room 'x' is guarded by two grey robust wooden planks. When turning in for the evening the riders feel the same effect as they are graced by a silence that is hardly rivaled by any other room in the house.

The noise of traffic is erased thanks to the towering height of the second floor and the ambient noise that creeps through the house, forcing its way though every nook and cranny in its path is virtually erased. That is where the magic comes from. That and the magic beanstalk that grows outside the window.

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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

Elite men

Sean Babcock, 28, (Kona)
Ryan Knapp, 27, (
Ryan Iddings, 27, (Redline)
Mitchell Hoke, 23, (Cliff Bar Development Team)

U23 men

Danny Summerhill, 22, (Garmin-Holowesko)
Jerome Townsend, 22, (’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)

Junior men

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