GENT, Belgium (VN) — Ted King, who suffered a heartbreaking exit from last year’s Tour de France, will likely see a second shot to make it to Paris.
Cannondale manager Roberto Amadio confirmed to VeloNews that the team is planning a Tour return this July for King, who was forced out of last year’s race after he missed the time cut in the team time trial by seven seconds.
“Ted will be returning to the Tour this summer,” Amadio told VeloNews. “The Tour is still a long way away, and anything can happen, but, yes, he is part of our plans for the Tour.”
Last summer, the popular New Englander realized a dream when he earned a spot among Cannondale’s Tour nine. He worked hard to improve his condition, and slotted into an important support role for team captain Peter Sagan.
Disaster struck during the crash-marred, chaotic first stage on Corsica, when King fell in a frenetic finale. The Orica-GreenEdge team bus was stuck under the finish-line awning, creating mounting tension as race officials and commissaires struggled to safely manage the arrival of the fast-charging peloton.
Battered and bruised, and nursing a separated shoulder, King made it across the line to stay in the race. He survived the following two stages on Corsica, hoping to mend up and stay in the race, and lend a helping hand to Sagan later in the Tour.
The team time trial in stage 4, when the Tour returned to mainland France, proved his undoing, however. King was dropped in the first kilometer of the technical 25-kilometer course around Nice, and rode the entire course alone in a vain effort to make the time cut.
UCI officials were merciless when they calculated the time cut, and kicked King out of the race after missing the limit by just seven seconds. King suggested that he made the time cut, claiming the his power meter was more accurate than the official timing. UCI officials could not be swayed, and forced King to make an emotional farewell to the Tour.
King’s exit was even more bittersweet because his father, hampered by health problems, had traveled to France that day to watch his son race.
Amadio said King deserved his spot on the short-list of riders who are penciled in to start the Tour this summer.
“He is very important to protecting Peter,” Amadio said. “He is a very strong rider, and he is gaining more and more experience. We need riders like Ted in the Tour.”
Cannondale will return to the Tour this summer intent on winning a third consecutive green points jersey with star rider Sagan. There should be a heated battle for green, with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) likely skipping the Giro d’Italia to arrive as fresh as possible to the Tour.
Cavendish’s priority will be winning the opening stage, and the yellow jersey that goes along with it, but the green jersey is also part of Omega Pharma’s plans. Cavendish has only won the green jersey once despite winning 25 Tour stages.
Sagan has proven so consistent in the bunch sprints that he can pick up points throughout the Tour to secure green, even when he cannot win against the pure sprinters. Last year, he only managed one stage victory, but easily won his second consecutive maillot vert.
King, meanwhile, has earned the trust of both Cannondale and Sagan, and has proven a steady hand in both the northern classics and longer stage races. King’s role in the one-day events and stage races is to protect Sagan’s flanks and then help chase down dangerous breakaways to set up the Slovak champion.
Since getting his full-time start in Europe with Cervélo in 2009, King has become one of the most experienced and strongest engines on the Cannondale team.
Lately, King has been focused on helping Sagan in the spring classics, and hasn’t talked much about the race in July, but there’s a sense he wants nothing more than return to the Tour, and ride all the way to Paris.