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A group of 10 juniors from the Euro Cross Academy (ECA) have arrived in Europe ahead of a block of racing that will include two UCI Cyclocross World Cup events.
The ECA has been a staple of the Euro ‘cross scene since 2003 and will run two blocks of racing in Europe this season.
Organized under the guidance of high school teacher and program director Geoff Proctor, the riders will be based in Belgium, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands for almost two weeks as they gain vital experience when it comes to racing against the best riders in Europe and beyond.
“We’ve 10 athletes, with five boys and five girls. We’ll do two World Cups coming up that are specifically for juniors and they’re important because the start grid for the World Championships isn’t decided by UCI points but by World Cup points instead. We’ll do Tabor next weekend in the Czech Republic and then we’ll have a week back in the Netherlands before doing the next World Cup there,” Proctor told VeloNews.
“Well stay for Koppenberg ‘cross and that’s a such good experience for the kids. Most of them will then fly home for the Pam-Am Games but we’ll return at Christmas with another block,” he added.
The group of riders contains a huge amount of talent. We have Vida Lopez de San Roman. She’s a first year, and then there’s Elsa Westenfelder, Kaya Musgrave, Ella Brenneman, and Finley Aspholm who is based in the US and racing for Finland. For the boys, we have August, who was fifth at the worlds last year. He’s had a lot of success on the road. We’ve a really great group that also has Magnus White the current national junior champion.”
The program is about more than just racing. It’s a huge chance for the athletes to grow and develop, both as individuals and as a collective. Previous riders to come through the system include Joe Dombrowski, Logan Owen, and Clara Honsinger.
For Proctor, the riders’ development is a fundamental part of the experience.
“The racing is so motivational for the kids and I just love working with them. It’s cool to see them grow that way. But it’s also super important that the riders stay on top of their school work while they are here. We have study hours every day, and as a 35-year teacher, it is super important to me that they stay on top of their academic work. Where they learn the most is through the racing experiences and the best racing experiences are in Europe. Finally, it’s about teaching the kids how to give back. As they grow as athletes, the goal is for this to come full cycle.”
Throughout the coming weeks, the juniors on the roster will rotate a running blog with VeloNews. Readers can expect insight into the racing, culture, life on the road, and the riders’ overall experiences with the Academy.
VIDA LOPEZ DE SAN ROMAN
FINLEY ASPHOLM (FINLAND)