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First World Cup and a visit from Sven Nys

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There was even time for some snaps with the Champ himself.

There was even time for some snaps with the Champ himself. (Image credit: Dennis Crane/www.dbcphoto.com)
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The team listens intently as Sven Nys discussed race tactics.

The team listens intently as Sven Nys discussed race tactics. (Image credit: Dennis Crane/www.dbcphoto.com)
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Sven signs some Euro 'Cross Camp t-shirts.

Sven signs some Euro 'Cross Camp t-shirts. (Image credit: Dennis Crane/www.dbcphoto.com)
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The entire Euro 'Cross Camp squd posing with World Champion Sven Nys.

The entire Euro 'Cross Camp squd posing with World Champion Sven Nys. (Image credit: Dennis Crane/www.dbcphoto.com)
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The trusty steed out on an early training ride in Vorselaar, Belgium.

The trusty steed out on an early training ride in Vorselaar, Belgium. (Image credit: Cooper Willsey)
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The scenic castle in the neighborhood of the Team ECXC House, Vorselaar, Belgium.

The scenic castle in the neighborhood of the Team ECXC House, Vorselaar, Belgium. (Image credit: Cooper Willsey)

On Sunday me and my fellow campers raced our very first World Cup in Namur. This was also our first race in Europe and it proved to be a tough opener. Most of our juniors encountered bad luck with crashes or mechanicals but we all gained valuable experience from racing at the highest level of the sport.

For those who don’t know, Namur is a very hard course. Combine the technical muddy drops and off-camber sections with the elevation gain every lap and running sections, it was a course that was above and beyond what many of us had ever raced. Even the camera’s perspective doesn’t do the course justice. Behind the camera is also one of the most beautiful cyclo-cross venues with a huge, old castle built atop a large hill that rises above the town. A spectacular sight which is often overlooked.

We awoke Monday morning with our first race behind us. We settled back into the routine of cleaning and fixing our equipment as well as ourselves. But unknown to us was a truly special day ahead. Once we finished our light training we gathered for a short meeting with our director Mr. Proctor. He told us that later that day the 2013 Cyclo-cross World Champion, Sven Nys, would be coming to the house to answer our questions and sign autographs! To have this opportunity was incredible and we all owe a huge thank you to Geoff for setting it up for our benefit. It was also extremely nice of Sven, who is quite a busy man, to take time out of his day to come down and talk with us.

Sven stayed at the house for around an hour answering our questions about everything cyclo-cross: training, eating, tactics, etc. Sven finished his stay by signing our Euro CX Camp tee-shirts and taking a picture with us. Spending that time with the World Champion was something I will never forget, it was very special and not many aspiring junior racers get such a chance.

We are now gearing up for our second World Cup race on Thursday in Zolder. Zolder will be an even bigger scene than Namur with more spectators and a very challenging course. After what we learned from Sven I believe that everyone will be putting that much more focus into their preparation for the World Cup. I am positive that we will have a better showing at Zolder as we are both more mentally and physically prepared than before!

Finally, I would love to thank those who have helped me get the chance to race and be here in Belgium. A few huge thank yous go out to my parents, my coach Jake and to all those in my local cycling community. I would also like to specifically thank David White from White + Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors. I have known him for many years and he has really helped with the costs of my trip to Belgium.

Thanks for reading!

Cooper Willsey

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