6 races, 14 days, 16 riders, 32 bikes, 1 director, 1 assistant director, 4 mechanics, 2 soigneurs, 2 chefs, 3 vans, 3 cars. Cyclocross racing at its ‘euro grittiest best!
Here’s a tentative look at what’s in store for 2012-2013:
Riders should depart from the U.S. on Wednesday 19 December in time to adjust to Euro Time and possibly do a local race right out of the gate. The Camp then starts with the World Cup in Namur on Sunday, 23 December (world cup for elites, but we’ll race the U23 and Jr race even though they’re not officially world cup). After this tough opener, the real meat of the ”kerstperiode” schedule begins. Wednesday, 26 December is the World Cup in Zolder on the F1 racetrack. Zolder was the site of 2002 Worlds, which saw the second largest spectator crowd ever to attend a cyclocross race (approx 60,000). The largest was this past season’s worlds in Koksijde with official attendance at 68,500. Then, Friday, 28 December, sees arguably the most popular cyclocross race in the world, Loenhout. As part of the GVA series, the Loenhout organizers take a fairly mundane circuit and spice it up by paying big money to all the top names, men and women, Belgian and foreign. There’s also the opportunity on the next day, 29 December, to race the Sylvester Cross in Bredene race. This is a really fun, fast, flat circuit and a nice change from some of the bigger races. The Camp reaches its crescendo with the late afternoon-evening Super Prestige in Diegem (suburban Brussels) on Sunday, 30 December and then the camp finishes off with the New Year’s Day race in Baal, the hometown of Sven Nys and Niels Albert.
Riders selected for the Rome world cup will then fly from Belgium to Italy on Thursday, 3 January and then book their return flights from Rome to the U.S. on Monday, 7 January. This segment will be USAC and will not be officially part of EuroCrossCamp. Camp riders not racing in Rome should depart on Wednesday, 2 January, to get back to the U.S. for school/work and/or fly directly to US Nationals.
The planning of the Camp’s race program involves many considerations: junior riders are only allowed to race twice a week in Belgium, elite riders often already have contracts for certain races, staff availability around New Year’s Day is an issue, and some organizers are willing to pay more start money for the mostly US National Team to be at their race. Careful planning and attention are given to which races fit the rider’s fitness, strengths and morale.