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Cole House proving himself to be a future Northern Classics champion (foto by Bart Vandenbroucke/VDB)
Cole House proving himself to be a future Northern Classics champion (foto by Bart Vandenbroucke/VDB)

BMC's Cole House wins U23 G.P. Waregem

25. marzo 2009

Waregem

Raced in brutal, quintessential Belgian conditions, Wednesday's G.P. Waregem was the perfect example of the type of event that only the strongest finish. 

Cole House, a member of the U23 BMC Racing Team and racing under the auspices of the United States National Developmental Team, won the event by out-sprinting the reduced group of competitors who succeeded in making it to the finish line. 

Bright indicator for the future of American cycling

With his victory today, Cole House becomes the first American ever to win this event.  Tyler Farrar, now racing for Team Garmin-Slipstream previously was the best placed American, having finished 2nd four years ago.  "Tyler's 2nd place had been the best ever for an American," USA National Developmental Team Coach Noel Dejonckheere said.  "Looking at what Tyler is doing now, it's a pretty good indicator for Cole's potential." Though Cole has finished well in similarly difficult Belgian races in the past, most notably finishing 7th in the 2008 U23 version of the Tour of Flanders, few would have suspected the young American could have pulled off such a coup today.  "Cole certainly has raced well in these types of events before," Dejonckheere said.  "But the conditions were so adverse today with cold, rain and lots of wind, that it was inevitable that only the absolute best were even going to finish."  The fact that of the 220 participants at the start of the race, only 38 riders were remaining at the finish is a clear indicator of just how tough the day was. 

Playing the top-level competition off each other

With only four USA Development Team members racing in the event, including BMC's Austin Carroll, the squad was going to have to use its wits as much as its legs to keep competitive.  "The racing level was so high at this event, and some teams like the U23 Quick-Step had 10-12 riders to work with," Dejonckheere explained.  "With so few team mates racing today, our guys had to be alert and know how to profit from the work of the bigger teams."  Austin Carroll managed to stay in the race, supporting House as much as possible until the very final circuits, though in the end, House was the lone American.  "I certainly didn't have many friends in that lead group!" House joked.  "I just tried not to do more work than I had to, and watched out for the teams that had 3 or 4 guys still in the front group."

Full-on sprint into a head wind

"With around 20 km to go, a group of five guys managed to breakaway, and at that point I figured the race was probably over," Cole House said.  "But luckily on the final lap just after the cobbled section everything came together again."  With just 8 kilometers remaining and two small climbs to negotiate, the lead group was reduced to just 13 riders.  "I wasn't certain how Cole was going to handle the last several kilometers since the weather was so cold by that time that I knew the race was going to get very hard for him," Dejonckheere recalled.  "But Cole played it cool in the end and was able to take the race with a fantastic sprint."  "When we got to the corner 1 km from the finish, that's when I thought 'shoot, I can actually win this!'" House explained.  "People were still attacking, but I just put my head down with about 300 meters to go; I thought I was going to get caught but when I looked back between my legs, I had won by 3 or 4 bike lengths!"

BMC's youthful crop

"This is really a huge result for our team since it shows what level of rider we have in development," BMC Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said.  "House's victory is a big satisfaction and it confirms all the confidence we had in him and his abilities."  Noel Dejonckheere agreed with this assessment:  "Being only 20 years old, Cole still has a lot to learn of course, but if he keeps developing as he should, I have no doubt that he has the talent to win the Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders in six or seven years."  Recent racing has also pointed to the promising development of several of BMC's youngest racers.  "I am very happy with the way Ian McKissick has been fighting to improve on the cobbles, even though it might not be his particular area of specialization," Lelangue explained.  "And what we have seen from Chad Beyer and Brent Bookwalter all year is also very encouraging; these three riders along with Cole House will definitely do some very good things not only in the next years, but in the next weeks."