Becoming the hammer: the EuroCross Academy blog

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Magnus White, the junior champion of the United States

Magnus White during a junior race in Namur (Image credit: @cyclephotos)
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Magnus White, the junior champion of the United States

Magnus White, the junior champion of the United States (Image credit: @cyclephotos)

After a one-year hiatus, the EuroCross Academy (ECA) returned to Belgium this week, with 10 junior riders from the United States embarking on a nearly three-week race to gain their first European cyclo-cross experience. .

As in previous years, Cyclingnews runs a blog from the camp, with runners contributing throughout their Belgian adventure. Magnus White is the current National Junior Champion. In the seventh installment of the ECA, he shares a first-person story about meeting his favorite cyclo-cross star.


Flemish cycling proverb: Soms ben je de hamer, soms de nagel.

Sometimes you are the hammer, sometimes you are the nail.

Running in Belgium taught me to be more aggressive and confident in the races. The first race I did here was the Namur World Cup and being the first race under these conditions, I was the highlight. But as I progressed through the week and learned from Namur, I became more confident, starting with my second race, the Dendermonde World Cup. And by the time Zolder arrived the next day, I felt like I had been hit with a hammer.

The level of racing here and the way the race is going is very different from any race in the United States. The first lap is like a whole race in the United States: everyone is aggressive and finds areas to pass where you would just like to sit and ride in the United States. People run for every position like it’s for first place, which is the mindset you need to have if you’re going to do well. I put that in my mind, while also trying to be the hammer and ride aggressively and confidently, which led to much better results in Zolder and Dendermonde.

A major challenge that is not evident in the media is life when you are not in between the gang and how difficult it can be to live the life of a professional cyclist. It involves resting a lot and standing as much as possible. As well as navigating in the era of a global pandemic where one can go from Namur where there were hundreds of spectators to Dendermonde and Zolder where there were none in less than a week. Avoiding illness is another element: for example, having to adapt to constant masking and other necessary measures to be as safe as possible.

I’ve only been here a week and a half, training and racing, and I’ve improved so much as a pilot and a racer already. This experience will change the way I race coming back to the US and having the opportunity to race next year with the same juniors who also raced here. This will make the American races much more competitive and will look more like a Belgian race, except for the mud of course.

The mud here is unlike anything we have in the United States. With the Namur and Dendermonde mud finished and now with Loenhout and Baal ahead, 90 percent of the races here are muddy. A big change from the American races which, this fall, were mostly dry and dusty.

I am very happy to have this opportunity to race here in Belgium and have already gained a lot of experience. I am convinced that the lessons learned so far are necessary to take my cycling to the next level.

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