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Winning bragging rights and a day off chores

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Cypress Gorry remounting after a set of stairs at the Kalmthout World Cup.

Cypress Gorry remounting after a set of stairs at the Kalmthout World Cup. (Image credit: Tom Robertson)
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Getting a little muddy during the team training race.

Getting a little muddy during the team training race. (Image credit: Lyne Lamoureux)

As the first week of Euro Cross Camp comes to a close, the big races really start to pick up. The junior racers, only able to race twice a week in Belgium, have to decide what races they want to do.

The World Cup tomorrow in Zolder ends this week's racing, and a Super Prestige Series race in Diegem starts into next week's racing on Monday. The rest of the week's options are a GVA in Loenhout on Wednesday, Sylvester Cyclo-cross in Bredene on Thursday, and GP Sven Nys in Baal on New Year's day.

On Wednesday, the camp help a mid-week training race for bragging rights, and more importantly, a day away from chores. The race, along the canal, consisted of a very short lap. Racing for about 30 minutes, the effort would not be too much for the racers. Everyone had fun racing just with each other and all getting a little muddy. Zach McDonald edged out Ryan Trebon, who came as a guest for the race, in the final sprint. Finishing in fifth for the race, I won the junior class and got a day off from chores!

Camp life has been pretty simple on non-race days. Often, a day will consist of a training ride to nearby town Kortrijk for a mid-ride coffee break. The roads, which are very frequently icy, add another element to the daily training rides. Yesterday had a little more excitement with a trip to the Koppenburg, and The Tour of Flanders cycling museum.

Seeing the Koppenburg in person was amazing. Taking a quick walk up, we all realized just how hard and steep the climb is in the middle of the Tour of Flanders stage race. After spending some time here, the group continued on to the final destination, the Tour of Flanders Museum in Gent. The museum featured many exhibits containing tremendous amounts of cycling history, and development from the early stages of racing. Much of the museum was dedicated to previous road World Champions.

There was also a special cyclo-cross exhibit that was very enjoyable. This exhibit talked about the World Champions and displayed artwork and pictures of races along with "artifacts" from the racers.

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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, (BikeReg.com)
Ryan Iddings, 27, (Redline)
Mitchell Hoke, 23, (Cliff Bar Development Team)

U23 men

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)

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