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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.