Young American cyclo-crossers will head across the Atlantic in mid-December for the 10th annual edition of the Euro 'Cross Camp run by Geoff Proctor. Nine juniors, six U23s and one elite rider have been selected for this year's camp in Belgium.
"It started in 2003, and we've kept the same vision and goals," said Proctor, who balances the duties of coordinating the camp with teaching at a public school in Montana. "It's changed a little bit here and there."
What's new for this year is the location of the Euro 'Cross Camp, which will be in Vorselaar, Belgium. "This year, the Isegem base of operation is being renovated. So I have found a different facility on the other side of Belgium," said Proctor to Cyclingnews. The logistics of new staff and location are challenging to work out, but it's all coming together."
The more eastern location should work out well. "Most 'crossers live on the east side of Belgium. We're nearer to the home of Erwin Vervecken and what was the long-time home of Bart Wellens, who now lives closer to Brussels. Being on the east side of Belgium means we'll be closer to more of the races during that Christmas week. I think it's 1.5 hours driving to the farthest race, and the rest are within an hour."
Proctor says the camp is targeting five races, and a small group will also travel separately after the camp to do the World Cup race in Rome. The World Cups are important because its standings are used to determine starting spots at the world championships in early 2013.
"For the juniors and U23, the start grid is based on World Cup, not on UCI points for the world championships in Louisville," said Proctor. "We have two juniors and one U23 racer who we are trying to get into those front two rows. I'll take those guys down to Rome and do that World Cup on January 7, and then they'll fly straight to Madison, Wisconsin for US nationals."
Euro Cross Camp brings together a collection of young talent from all over the US. "I have some kids coming to camp who are legitimate candidates to make the Worlds team and I have some who are more development-type riders," said Proctor. "It's always interesting to see the kids make leaps and bounds of progress each year."
With last year's shifting of US Cyclo-cross Nationals from December to January, Euro 'Cross Camp has become the perfect preparation in the final lead-up to nationals.
"I took 14 kids to the camp last year. Thirteen out of 14 finished in the top 13," said Proctor. "After the camp, you can see the confidence they have gotten in the mud. So much of the racing over there [in Europe] is gnarlier, steeper, more adverse. It's neat to see the progression that the riders make."
The Euro 'Cross Campers will arrive on December 20 and compete in their first race on December 23 in Namur. It's a World Cup for the elites, but not for the U23s and juniors. "Namur is one of the gnarliest, most challenging 'cross courses I've seen. There is a lot of vertical and sketchy descents. It's a good race - it'll be a real challenge."
Next up is the December 26th World Cup in Zolder, where Proctor can field six juniors and six U23s. A few of the other campers will be attending a smaller race that same day in Beernem. Then it's onto the Loenhout Bpost Bank Trophee on December 28 and the Diegem Superprestige on December 30. Finally, camp will officially wrap up on January 1 at the Baal Bpost Bank Trophee.
Proctor picks between 14 and 20 campers each year. "I was aiming for 15, but ended up having 16 this year," he said. "There are a few guys who were also at the camp last year."
"With the juniors, I try to look for the strongest riders. I've been working closely with two of them: Logan Owen and Curtis White. They were givens. Then I looked for kids who are toward the top of the results in certain races."
"I try not to look at the results until November. I don't want them to peak too soon. I like to see who is surfacing - moving up and who is knocking at the door and ready to take it to the next level developmentally. I like to get good geographic distribution."
"Ideally, I want to pick guys who will perform well at nationals and worlds, but there will always be a situation where a rider can't travel until nationals and I don't know about him, and then he or she makes the worlds team."
The camp will include one elite rider this year, Justin Lindine, who is hoping to perform well enough to earn a discretionary pick to the US team for Worlds.
2012-2013 Euro 'Cross Camp X Roster
Justin Lindine (Redline Bicycles), 28, New Salem, MA
Manny Goguen (C.F. Racing P/B Trek Portsmouth), 21, Hopedale, MA
Danny Gerow (Wolverine Racing Elite CX, 21, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
Josh Johnson (Bissell-ABG-Nuvo), 20, Fort Wayne, IN
Skyler Trujillo (Boo/Enve/Challenge), 20, Fort Collins, CO
Andrew Dillman (Bob’s Red Mill Cyclocross), 18, Fairdale, KY
Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized), 18, Santa Cruz, CA
Logan Owen (Redline Bicycles), 17, Bremerton, WA
Curtis White (Hot Tubes Development Team), 17, Duanesburg, NY
Nate Morse (Hot Tubes Development Team), 17, Cohasset, MA
Stephen Bassett (Bob’s Red Mill Cyclocross), 17, Knoxville, TN
Nick Torraca (Mad Duck Cyclery), 17, Grapevine, TX
John Francisco (Red Zone Cycling) 17, Louisville, KY
Peter Goguen (C.F. Racing P/B Trek Portsmouth), 16, Hopedale, MA
David Lombardo (Verdigris-Village Cyclocross), 16, Crystal Lake, IL
Josey Weik (ISCorp), 16, Wrenshall, MN
2012-2013 Euro 'Cross Camp X Race Schedule (all races in Belgium except Rome)
December 23: Namur World Cup
December 26: Zolder World Cup
December 26: Beernem 'Cross (for those not selected for Zolder World Cup)
December 28: Loenhout Bpost Bank Trophee
December 30: Diegem SuperPrestige
January 1: Baal Bpost Bank Trophee
January 6: Rome World Cup (not part of Euro 'Cross Camp, but a few riders will travel with Geoff Proctor there).
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.