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A surprise win in Belgium

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Grant Ellwood (Boulder Cyclo Sport Devo p/b BJC ) atop the podium in Waremme, Belgium

Grant Ellwood (Boulder Cyclo Sport Devo p/b BJC ) atop the podium in Waremme, Belgium (Image credit: Boulder Junior Cycling)
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Grant Ellwood trying to stay warm before the race starts in Waremme.

Grant Ellwood trying to stay warm before the race starts in Waremme. (Image credit: Boulder Junior Cycling)

So far, EuroCrossCamp XI has been a lot of fun! Getting to know everyone and seeing the country side of Belgium has been awesome! The first couple days were tough to get adjusted, but now I have adjusted to the new time zone and living with 16 other riders.

My first race in Belgium was in Waremme. It was a pretty crazy race. Trying to register we kept getting cut in line by all the Belgians. Finally we got out of the registration bar, which smelled like cigarettes, and headed back to the vans. We got kitted up and tried to get on the course but we were unable to because there were kids racing. We finally got on the course 40 minutes later and got out first taste of a Belgium race course.

It wasn't too technical of a race but there were some steep slick parts in the woods. It was fun to ride some mud, because in Colorado we rarely get any mud. Everywhere else on the course was flat and somewhat muddy, which was pretty tiring. After pre-riding we went back to the van and got the bikes dialed.

The Belgian guys that we were with were pretty funny. 90% of the time you couldn't understand what they were saying and then they'd look at you and start talking about something and point to your tire. Then they would just start adjusting your tire pressure and have you go and check it. I think I had about 18-19 psi in my tires. At first I was like, "this is too low," but these guys just nodded their heads and gave me a thumbs up.

We warmed up on the road for a while and then headed to the start. Once we were there the wind really picked up and it was freezing. Five minutes later we had six of us Americans huddled behind a tree trying to stay warm. At the start line they were calling up everyone and even though I had UCI points I ended up last row.

Off the start there was a crash but I was able to avoid it and sprint up to the top third going into the first turn. Half a lap later I cut my sidewall on a little corner stone that I did not see pre-riding and had to run about 100 feet, which was pretty lucky. On the B bike I slowly started passing people and after two laps I was off the front with a solid lead with my teammate Chris Key. About a lap later Chris crashed and broke his derailleur hanger and had to run for a while. After Chris crashed I just kept riding how I had been and tried to stay as smooth as possible.

With a lap to go the next kid was probably 30 seconds off so I just kept pushing and ended up with the win. I was very surprised to end up with the victory. It was a very special moment to win a race in Belgium even though it was a small local race. All the preparation that I did with my team this season, getting us ready for Belgium was a huge help in this first race. Our next race is Thursday the 26th at Beernem. Hopefully it will be another good race and some sweet mud!

EuroCrossCamp Director Geoff Proctor will lead the eleventh annual cyclo-cross camp that will run through late December and early January. 10 juniors, four U23s and two elite women will make the journey to Belgium to train and race over the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

Racing for the campers will begin on December 22 at the Namur World Cup and run through the Baal Bpost Bank Trophee on January 1. A few of the EuroCrossCampers will stay a bit extra so that they can also compete in the Rome World Cup on January 5.

The camp has previously helped the careers of racers like current US National Champion Ryan Trebon, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll. Read these diaries for hints of who may emerge from this year's crop of racers as America's future 'cross stars. Coach Proctor and his riders will take turns contributing diary entries.

2013-2014 EuroCrossCamp XI Roster

Elite Women
Elle Anderson, San Francisco, CA, Cal Giant Berry p/b Specialized
Courtenay McFadden, Bellingham, WA, Bicycle Bluebook/Rock Lobster

U23
Andrew Dillman, Fairdale, KY, Sophisticated Living p/b Bob's Red Mill
Cody Kaiser, El Dorado Hills, CA, Cal Giant Berry p/b Specialized
Tobin Ortenblad, Santa Cruz, CA, Cal Giant Berry p/b Specialized
Logan Owen, Bremerton, WA, Cal Giant Berry p/b Specialized

Junior
Grant Ellwood, Boulder, CO, Boulder Cyclo Sport Devo p/b BJC
Peter Goguen, Hopedale, MA, RACE CF | racecf.org @racecf
Lance Haidet, Bend, OR, Bear Development Team
Gavin Haley, Louisville, KY, Red Zone Cycling Elite
Chris Key, Boulder, CO, Boulder Cyclo Sport Devo p/b BJC
Ian McShane, Louisville, KY, Sophisticated Living p/b Bob's Red Mill
Ethan Reynolds, Boise, ID, Hot Tubes Development Cycling Team
Austin Vincent, Simsbury, CT, RACE CF | racecf.org @racecf
Josey Weik, Wrenshall, MN, Red Zone Cycling Elite
Cooper Willsey, Hinesburg, VT, Cyclocrossworld.com/Cannondale

EuroCrossCamp schedule:
Thursday, 19 December – Riders arrive in Belgium (fly in to Brussels)
Sunday, 22 December - Namur WC
Sunday, 22 December - Waremme (for racers not racing in Namur)
Thursday, 26 December - Zolder WC
Thursday, 26 December - Beernem (for racers not racing in Zolder)
Friday, 27 December - Loenhout bPost bank trofee
Sunday, 29 December - Diegem SuperPrestige
Wednesday, 1 January - Baal bPost GP Sven Nys
Thursday, 2 January – Riders depart for U.S. (fly out of Brussels)
Friday, 3 January – USAC Selected riders fly to Rome
Sunday, 5 January - Rome WC
Monday, 6 Jan – Riders depart for U.S. from Rome