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Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 14:51 UK

Kristian to be a House-hold name

By Ben Croucher
Blast reporter, BBC Radio Kent

Kristian House beats Dan Lloyd and Peter Kennaugh
Kristian House celebrates after winning the British Road Racing title

If I asked you to name national sporting champions from Kent, you would most likely rattle off the likes of Dame Kelly Holmes, Shane Byrne and Andy Fordham.

But if I were to add the name of Kristian House to that list, you would certainly be forgiven for scratching your head.

In fact, the unheralded Canterbury-born cyclist has just burst on to the national sporting stage by beating some of Britain's biggest names to win the national road race title.

In June, the 29-year-old fended off the likes of Tour de France stars Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish to claim the British National Road Race Championship on a 104-mile route round Monmouthshire in Wales.

According to House, his transformation from zero to hero came as just as much of a shock to him as it did to the cycling connoisseurs.

"I've always felt that I could compete at that level, but I didn't think it would be this year, with the injuries I've had," he told BBC Radio Kent.

"Towards the end of the race, I thought my chances were improving but I tried not to think about winning. I'm not a natural-born winner.

It's been unreal. The Facebook and Twitter messages, emails and texts I've received from all over the world have been non-stop.

Kristian House

"It wasn't until about 150 metres to go I thought 'I can do this!'"

Having made a breakaway early on in the race, House managed to stay ahead of the star-studded field before producing a scintillating sprint for the line.

By claiming the most prestigious prize in British domestic cycling, the Rapha Condor team racer sent a shudder through the cycling world.

And House says the reaction to his win has left him stunned.

"It's been unreal. The Facebook and Twitter messages, emails and texts I've received from all over the world have been non-stop. Even people who aren't into cycling are getting in touch.

"It's nice to get that recognition," he said, as he prepared to compete in the Blackpool Nocturne race.

House's route to the top has been an unusual one. Born in Canterbury, he grew up in Austin, Texas, where he would ride his BMX to soccer practice.

A natural athlete, he was a national standard runner in his youth but after meeting a couple of local cyclists, he quickly swapped two legs for two wheels.

Kristian House
Towards the end of the race, I thought my chances were improving but I tried not to think about winning. I'm not a natural-born winner

Kristian House

"We only had one car so I had to cycle to school and practice. I ended up meeting a couple who both raced and things just snowballed from there," he said.

"They got me into a club, helped me find a bike and as I picked it up, it went really well."

His rapid transition into a serious rider left the Kentish man with a tough decision however. Despite being only 17, House decided to fly the nest and turn his love into a profession.

"I had two choices. I could either go to university - and my only option there was to run - or I could go to Europe and race the bike.

"I didn't know what to study at university so that made my mind up for me."

And what a decision it turned out to be.

Success has followed the Anglo-American throughout his career, culminating in his national title in Wales last month.

But after 10 years as a professional, he still counts himself lucky to cycle for a living.

"I always set myself goals," he said. "Another year here, another year there and before you know it, it's 10 years down the line.

"Sometimes I can't believe I'm still doing it."

Now House has the honour of wearing the red, white and blue jersey reserved for the national champion. But keeping it next year will be tougher than ever.

"Just by having that jersey on, people are going to try and beat you. But at the same time, you want to prove that you deserve to wear it and show you are a champion."

Having returned to the UK this week from altitude training in China, his next chance to prove he warrants the acclaim are the Mi-Aout Bretonne in France and the Tour of Ireland in August, followed by September's Tour of Britain.

Now in peak of his career, and in the form of his life, House looks set to turn the top step of the rostrum into his new home.



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