Jack Spranger Worlds prep
Team USA

Jack Spranger’s European Racing Campaign Has Prepared Him For Worlds

By: Guillermo Rojas  January 22, 2022

In his last year as a junior racer, 17-year-old Jack Spranger is enjoying a dream season. After having no 2020 season due to COVID cancelled races, 2021 became the year of many firsts, which strengthened Jack’s foundation in cycling. From his first win of the season at Arlington, to his first European training trip with USA Cycling, the 2021-2022 season is shaping his tomorrow.

After that season opening victory at Arlington, Spranger continued to find the podium and refine his cyclocross skills. Throughout the season, he amassed eight first place finishes, including wins at the Trek Cup, Jingle Cross, Kings CX Day, Northampton and the Pan-American Championships. Those races produced more than podiums, they gave Spranger a UCI #2 World Ranking and more confidence leading into the 2021 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships.

“Nationals didn’t go so well. I think I came into it with a little too much pressure on myself and had a lot of nerves. I knew I was the race favorite, it got to my head and I didn’t have the best race there.”

But after a disappointing fourth place at Nationals, Jack headed to Europe for the MudFund-supported USA Cycling training camp. While the volume and quality of the training camp made him a stronger rider, the different courses and terrain helped him gain further confidence. Overall, the greatest lesson he learned he believes will help his entire career.

“I learned in Europe [at the USA Cycling camp], to stay present in the race and not focus where I am or what place I am in, just focusing on riding the course to the best of my ability. Hitting the lines and corners and doing the technical features correctly and trying not to make mistakes instead of worrying about how I just got passed or that I just made a mistake. Just focus on what you can do, not what you can’t control.”

The camp was another first for Spranger, it was his first trip to Europe. The experience he describes as eye-opening. Besides the quality training, he experienced unique race elements and increased his cyclocross IQ by being around the veteran coaches and athletes. Another lesson that was absorbed from the coaches, Jesse Anthony and Grant Holicky, and older riders like Gage Hecht was to “focus on the process and focus on training because you have complete control over that. Process goals are really helpful, where outcome goals you can’t control as much.”

Spranger’s European trip started with a 25th place at the UCI World Cup Dendermonde and ended with two podiums at Loenhout-Azencross and Herentals. Now ranked seventh in the world after his domestic and international season, Spranger is poised for a great showing in Arkansas. “The MudFund support made the trip to Europe possible, covering most of our expenses and most of our team’s expenses for Worlds. I appreciate the support, I’m excited for the race.”

After previewing the Worlds course and gaining confidence throughout the season, Spranger smiles when he thinks about race day. With his family cheering for him, including his Dad who introduced him to the sport, he believes the time he spent working on his skills will allow him to enjoy the big climb, long technical descent and the stair run-up. The hard work and knowledge he gained from the camp have helped him gain more strengths as a racer.

After Arkansas and for the rest of 2022, Spranger will switch to mountain biking, riding for Bear National Team and aiming to qualify for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. The fall will bring the next chapter as Spranger will become a student-athlete at Colorado Mesa University. After college, he then hopes to become a professional cyclist in mountain biking or cyclocross; a journey that started with his Dad taking him to a BMX track for a ride.

Spranger is aiming for a top ten spot at Cyclocross Worlds, but don’t count him out to be on the hunt for the podium.

USA Cycling relies on thousands of individual annual contributions from cyclists and other supporters of our mission to champion the sport of cycling in America. These contributions fund programs like the European racing development camp and the World Championships, as well as many other elite-level development so the Stars and Stripes shine on world-class podiums. Let's grow the sport of cycling together.