Cole House (BMC Racing Team) is in his final year as an under 23 rider and hopes to join BMC's stagiare programme this August, before turning professional in 2011.
However, the 22-year-old Wisconsin native hasn't had the greatest of starts to his 2010 racing season, suffering from crashes and ill-timed punctures. Currently racing in Belgium with the US development team, House will return home on April 18th before making another trip to Europe in May.
"It's been a rough start compared to last year," House told Cyclingnews from the US team's base in Izegem, Belgium. "In 2009 I won GP Waregem and I came back to defend my title this year but I just didn't have it.
"I'd only been here in Belgium for three days and I was just empty in the second half of the race. That was kind of expected after travelling in so late. I simply wasn't used to the time difference."
After a disappointing first race House's confidence was badly knocked but he found his racing legs in the Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux, where teammate Taylor Phinney won a stage. On the final stage, however, House crashed and was unable to rejoin the lead group.
"I came around really well and felt really well on the last day but crashed and snapped off my fork. It took a couple of minutes to get a bike change and by then the race was long gone."
His poor luck continued in the U23 Tour of Flanders, a race in which House finished seventh in 2008. On a long, flat highway just before a cobbled section he punctured and was forced on the defensive. Despite a chase back through the cars he was unable to rejoin the leaders.
"I have no idea what I hit or why I flatted. I almost made contact back to the leaders but hit a headwind and couldn't close it. It was just bad luck."
House will race in two more Nation Cup races before returning to the US and feels that with strong legs, it's only a matter of time before the results will start to flow.
House joined the team in 2009 and has seen the squad take off in the last twelve months, with the signings of George Hincapie, Cadel Evans and Alessandro Ballan, amongst others.
While the 22-year-old has not had the chance to race with the team's top crop, he knows that their arrival means it could be an even bigger challenge to turn professional with the team. However, instead of shying away from it, House says he is looking forward to the test.
"It makes it harder to make the next level because it's so high now, but you stay focused and keep trying for it and hopefully it happens.
"There's quite a bit of pressure as it's my last year as an under 23. You have to pull through with the results or it's tough to get a job for next year."
House will take inspiration from Chris Butler, a fellow rider on the BMC under 23 team who has moved up to the professional ranks.
"The team and I have talked a bit about a couple different situations including the stagiare programme and hopefully they'll take me on in August. That's been my biggest goal this season."