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Cyclocross

Euro Cross Academy: The first World Cup

Ella Brenneman has gained a new perspective on what it takes to be the best. 

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During the next two weeks, riders from the Euro Cross Academy will be writing exclusive blogs for VeloNews as they race in Europe.

ECA Journal #5
28 October 2022
Rider: Ella Brenneman
Hometown: York, PA
Photos: @cyclocrosss

The deafening roar of thousands of humans cheering and cowbells ringing in your ears seemed something out of a dream. As someone who has watched cyclocross World Cups for many years now, I will remember Tábor for the rest of my life. It was the first World Cup I was able to experience as a racer. 

The difference between watching a World Cup and racing one is huge, and I had no idea until I crossed that finish line. One thing I realized is that the preparation for these big races does not start the day before. It starts months prior. Along with everyone else, we have spent countless hours on the bike, in the weight room, and our legs straight up against the wall. We follow our training plans and make sacrifices to a “normal” teenage life that we simply do not live.

Also read: Euro Cross Academy: Keeping the fun in racing

In addition, I made the decision in my high school career to transfer online. Taking my classes online allows me to train, work, and travel freely. For example, I have been on the road consecutively since the beginning of September and I would have it no other way. These are the sacrifices that I am willing to take and I do not regret them at all. All of these choices contribute to my opportunity to be here racing at these World Cups. 

And, I am not the only person who makes sacrifices. We all do. That’s part of racing this sport at an elite level. Each and every one of us has earned this opportunity to be on these Corld Cup start lists. Everyone who watches and follows along with cyclocross has a good knowledge of what it takes to be the best, but it is even more than that. 

Showing up to the venue in Tábor, I was feeling every emotion there is. Seeing every nation’s symbol and colors so vividly on every girl’s jersey showed that I was not the only one who worked hard to get to this start line. Representing your home nation is not something everyone can simply do on a daily basis. It was a privilege to be able to look down at my jersey and see “USA”. Every single one of these athletes, man or woman, has worked day in and day out to be able to even start at a World Cup. 

What I want people to realize is that in any elite level sport, every athlete has put blood, sweat, and tears into making it to that level. Knowing how hard I’ve worked in the off-season and still coming through the finish line about three minutes behind the leader opened my eyes tremendously. In that moment, coming across and looking up at the screen, I was not disappointed in my performance whatsoever. It just made me hungrier for more. 

It has been about a week since our ECA trip to Czech Republic and I’ve had plenty of time to process the weekend. That race has impacted me every day since. I now have a new perspective on what it takes to be the best. 

Start line of Tábor. (Photo: @cyclocrosss)