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Elbows sharpened, knives drawn

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Geoff Proctor pins on Austin Vincent's number at GP Sven Nys.

Geoff Proctor pins on Austin Vincent's number at GP Sven Nys. (Image credit: Dennis Crane/www.dbcphoto.com)
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Austin Vincent negotiates one of the ditch crossings at Loenhout.

Austin Vincent negotiates one of the ditch crossings at Loenhout. (Image credit: Dennis Crane/www.dbcphoto.com)
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Tackling one of the tricky descents at Zolder, Austin Vincent finished 35th at the former F1 track.

Tackling one of the tricky descents at Zolder, Austin Vincent finished 35th at the former F1 track. (Image credit: Dennis Crane/www.dbcphoto.com)
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They aren't having much fun at EuroCrossCamp, are they? The crew hams it up for the camera before a team ride. From left to right - Austin Vincent, Cooper Willsey, Lance Haidet and Gavin Haley.

They aren't having much fun at EuroCrossCamp, are they? The crew hams it up for the camera before a team ride. From left to right - Austin Vincent, Cooper Willsey, Lance Haidet and Gavin Haley. (Image credit: Nadia Zylawy)
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Peter Goguen and Austin Vincent out on a team training ride in Vorselaar, BE.

Peter Goguen and Austin Vincent out on a team training ride in Vorselaar, BE. (Image credit: Nadia Zylawy)
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Austin Vincent (Team CF) rolls out to the start grid at Diegem.

Austin Vincent (Team CF) rolls out to the start grid at Diegem. (Image credit: Nadia Zylawy)

Last Thursday was the end of EuroCrossCamp XI, my first European trip and experience. It was a great camp and I learned a lot of things that will make me a better rider. I was able to race six big European races, three of them being World Cups. One thing I learned repeatedly in the races was that the simplest of mistakes would cost you fives spots in a second and that a big mistake would send you to the back of the field. Racing over here has also taught me to fight for every spot and has sharpened my elbows for sure.

I competed in the Rome World Cup along side with my teammate on Race CF, Peter Gougen, and my good friend, Cooper Willsey. This was the third time I got to wear the USA skinsuit and compete for my country in a World Cup this European trip.

The course was very unique, one half of the course was all power straights on gravel and horse-track. The other half was all tight technical corners that were slick mud. When we got to the course in the morning of race day it was completely down-pouring, I thought Rome was supposed to be nice and sunny like years past. I really didn't mind because I like to race in the mud.

The start was about 200 meters then a 180 degree turn, then 150 meters to another 180 degree turn. Going into the race I knew there would be riders stacking up there. I was called up the second rider on the third row, so I knew that I had to go into the race anticipating contact.

Like Sven Nys says "Come to the start with your knives drawn or your chances of winning will melt away like the snow in the sun." My knives were drawn, I felt prepared for the race and was ready to go race the best race I could.

Unfortunately, right off the start a rider dropped his chain and swerved right into me crashing us both. I think he was trying to get to the side of the course to put his chain back on. I was in second to last when I hopped back on my bike. There was 50 starters and I was able to work my way back up to 28th place. I'm not super stoked on the result, but I felt great throughout the race and was always moving up and passing.

Tomorrow, I fly to Boulder, Colorado for the National Championships. EuroCrossCamp XI has helped prepare me for these nationals.

I would like to thank Geoff Proctor for giving me the amazing opportunity to attend EuroCrossCamp XI. USA cycling for selecting me to race the World Cups in Namur, Zolder, and Rome. All of the mechanics and staff. Finally, for everyone that has donated to help Peter and me. I have learned so much from this trip that has made me better rider and person on and off the bike.

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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