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Ted King, riding for Cervelo at the Giro d’Italia, reflects on his time in the collegiate cycling ranks.

King is eager to hit the road in Italy.

King is eager to hit the road in Italy.

Editor’s Note: This year, Ted King is making his professional European racing debut with the upstart Cervélo TestTeam. While first getting a taste for the European peloton with the U.S. espoir national team in 2005, King returned to the United States for three successful years of domestic pro racing. King, 26, is a native of New Hampshire and despite his affinity for hearty servings of coffee, he is slowly adapting to the smaller European portions. Slowly. His diaries will appear on VeloNews.com every few days during the Giro, alternating with diaries by Columbia-Highroad’s Michael Barry. When he’s not racing the Giro, you can follow Ted at www.Cervelo.com/team and www.iamTedKing.MissingSaddle.com.

First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day! You’re great Mom, and I’m thinking of you on this fine day from Italy.

Yesterday’s TTT was a good way to start such a big tour and to ride the jitters out of the system, so that today’s road stage felt much more relaxed. Stage 2 today was a pretty textbook day of racing at the Giro. Mellow cruise out of town through much pink fanfare, one rider rolls off the front and has his day in the limelight, race leader’s team rides the front throughout the day, breakaway is caught, sprint finish, bam, done. If you’re looking for a personalized first-hand race report, go to VeloNews’ coverage of the race and replace “this is what happened …” with “this is what I saw …” and pretend it was written by yours truly.

When the folks at VeloNews gave me this web column, they generously didn’t limit me in what I could write. So what am I going to talk about today? The start village? The tifosi? The podium girls?! Not even close. Of all subjects, you probably wouldn’t guess that today I’m going to talk about collegiate cycling. Right right, I know I’m at the Giro and I should talk about that, but hear me out for just a minute and this will begin to make sense. Given that VeloNews is dedicated primarily to a North American audience, I think this is a worthy subject especially as the collegiate road race season wraps up today.

If you’re a collegiate cyclist in the United States, this time of year means one thing: collegiate nationals (sorry mom and dad, final exams are not of chief concern right now). I’m a huge proponent of the National Collegiate Cycling Association as it was instrumental in getting me into cycling.

After watching my brother Robbie capture a national road race title in 2002 I thought I’d try my hand, err legs, at cycling, too. (Sorry, bad joke.)

Bike racing in the collegiate level is just plain fun! Generally beginning in March, you see the same great people weekend after weekend, develop excellent camaraderie and have a blast racing with them, witness entertaining antics of all sorts, and maybe if you’re lucky you will complete a single homework assignment per weekend road trip. The competition is generally fierce but always enjoyable, plus it’s a fantastic way to enter the regular summer race season with some decent form. I think collegiate cycling is playing a huge part in the growth of the sport in America.

Along the same lines of the great state of collegiate racing in America, there’s awesome talent in the pro ranks in the USA as well. VeloNews’ report on this weekend’s Joe Martin Stage Race reminds me that I won last year’s edition of yesterday’s stage of the JMSR (for those counting, that’s four possessives in one sentence). Despite the tough economic times that made for a difficult offseason, it’s a pleasure to read about the competition between the top pro teams duking it out at Joe Martin.

I’m at the Giro. The GIRO! Believe me, I still pinch myself knowing I’m here racing for the very motivated current Tour champion in Carlos Sastre. But we’ve sent a super strong team here to support him and just like the other guys, I’ve earned my spot alongside Carlos on the start line. America is where I cut my teeth racing over the past half dozen years and I have America’s collegiate and professional cycling to thank for getting me where I am today.

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