Danish elite Margriet Kloppenberg hammering the sand. © Francisco Castro Santos

Danish elite Margriet Kloppenberg hammering the sand. © Francisco Castro Santos

What do serious Juniors do in the off-season? A six-day training camp at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, under the guidance of coaches Beat Wabel and Geoff Proctor, of course. Wabel is a former Junior World Champion, nine times Swiss Champion and World Cup winner, while Geoff Proctor is team manager for the USA World Cyclocross Championships Junior and U23 team.

“The World Cycling Centre is an ideal spot to do specific cyclocross training,” comments Proctor. “It is the off-season and perfect to relax and focus on technique. It is motivating for the riders to see other people doing it rather than being alone working on skills.

The first such camp held in 2012 saw one of its trainees, the Czech Adam Ťoupalík take the bronze medal in the Junior UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in February this year.

Four other Czechs were among the athletes, aged 15 to 25, sharpening their skills around the WCC. For Lukáš Kunt it was an opportunity to learn, not only from the coaches, but also the other participants: “It’s good to meet people from other countries and see other styles. There are some great riders here and we are learning lots of technical stuff.”

At 25 years of age, Denmark’s Margriet Kloppenburg said she had learned a great deal from the younger riders. She laughs: “They’re not scared of anything. I watch them and then say to myself, ‘alright, here we go….’”

The former speed skater, track cyclist and road cyclist has been competing in cyclocross for four seasons. Now living in Belgium, the heart of the discipline, the Danish athlete appreciated the training camp in Switzerland which enabled her to work calmly on her skills.

“In a race everything goes so fast and you are tired so it is more difficult to concentrate on technical things. It has been a big help,” added Margriet Kloppenburg, who hopes to improve her performances on the UCI World Cup circuit next season.

2013 Italian Junior Women Champion Rebecca Gariboldi, would also like to participate in the 2013-2014 World Cup: “It is good to do this kind of camp in summer, working in the sand, on the corners and all the technical parts. The mental training is also a help,” she added.

A typical training day for the camp’s participants began at 6.30am with cross training, followed by specific cyclocross skills later in the morning and group rides in the afternoon. The day finished with classroom sessions each evening that included race analysis, character skills, mental training and technical discussions.

Geoff Proctor was delighted with his students’ progress: “I can tell that some of the guys are going to be strong. It is especially encouraging to see four women this year, compared with two last year. There is so much potential for women in this sport.

“We are very lucky to have the facilities here at the World Cycling Centre where there is sand and bumps and everything you need for cyclocross,” he added.