Houffalize, a classic among World Cup venues that attracts thousands of spectators from all over Europe. Just racing at Houffalize, would be a monumental moment for most cyclists… and then to find a spot on the podium is pretty freaking awesome. Last weekend, Utah’s own Keegan Swenson of Cannondal factory Racing, did just that. KDAY Racing decided to throw a few questions at Swenson, in hopes of getting a better idea of how it all played out.

Have you ever raced at Houffalize before?
No

How would you rank the race, the atmosphere and the competition, to the other venues you’ve been to around the world?
I would say it was right up there with Offenburg. The crowds were insane! And of course the course was awesome. Definitely hoping they bring it back again next season.

How many training laps did you take to get the course dialed in and how confident were you about the race when it came time to line up?
Id say it took me about 5 laps to get the course dialed in well.

I felt pretty confident when it came time to line up, I just felt like I had the course dialed and that it suited me fairly well. I also had a really good call up, which is always nice at races with a lot of racers.

Reports say that you lead the majority of the race. Would you say that you were in control and setting the pace for the lead group or were there a lot of attacks by others gunning for the lead?
Yes and no, I was leading and felt like I had some control for bit. But at the same time you never really feel like you have control over these world cups, just so much going on.

On the final lap you lost some air in your tire. Do you feel that having the slight mechanical issue, cost you the win?
Yeah I burped my front tire somewhere going into the last lap, which was a bummer because I had to descend super slow to keep it from rolling off the rim. It might have cost me the win, but it’s hard to say because you never know what is going to happen.

What were the crowds like out on course?
The crowds were insane. Even for the juniors! There were people everywhere! We need racing in the US to be more like that. Easy spectator access and gnarly stuff that is fun to watch guys rip down.

Is it more or less motivating for you, to race under a lot of pressure or with hundreds or thousands of people cheering for you and others around you?
Id say it is definitely motivating!

Was there anyone actually cheering on the kid from the US?
Oh yeah, it seemed like everyone was cheering for everyone. Although I wasn’t sure what they were saying, it sounded good and encouraging.

We’ve all had big races that go well and some that don’t. If you could do this one over again, would you do anything different?
Uhm yes, I would put a little more air in my tires. It’s just hard to find the right balance of grip and stiffness some times…

I can imagine that team USA was pretty excited as well as your sponsor. How does Keegan Swenson, celebrate after such a great result?
Everyone was pretty stoked USA and Cannondale. Especially after Marco Fontana’s 3rd place and Manuel Fumic’s 5th place, great day for CFR! We went out for dinner with the rest of the USA team there and I’d say that was about it, we had a 4am wake up the next morning.

At only 18 yeas old, where do you see or hope to see yourself in five years from now?
Well, I hope to see myself with a professional team racing on the world cup circuit and big races all over the world.

What is the most gratifying aspect of cycling for you? Why, do you ride?
Probably a win or podium at a huge race, after all my hard training. Just satisfaction that it pays off I guess.

And finally, any shout-outs, people/sponsors to thank?
Yes of course, first off my friends and family for supporting me at all my races and events. Cannondale for the equipment support, mechanic support and overall just a great team as well as company. My coach Tom Noaker for his support and keeping me on track with everything and getting me faster! I’d also like to thank Chris and Nate at Endurance cycle service for keeping my bike running. Lastly, I want to thank Tim at Mountain Velo for putting me in the right position on all of my bikes! Thanks everyone for support!

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