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LEEDS, England (VN) — Ted King (Cannondale) is back at the Tour de France, intent on forgetting his bitter exit from last year’s edition and focused on helping teammate Peter Sagan win his third straight green jersey.
This time, King wants to make it all the way to Paris, ideally with Sagan wearing the points jersey.
“I fell on some hard luck last year, both figuratively and literally, so it’s an honor to be back,” King said at a press conference Friday. “This is the Tour de France. This is as big as it gets. We have a once-in-a-generation rider with Peter, so it’s an honor to be part of this team and race for a guy like Peter.”
King, 29, will play a key role in Cannondale’s effort to push Sagan back into green. The team doesn’t have a leadout train, such as rivals Lotto-Belisol, Giant-Shimano, or Omega Pharma-Quick Step, but the squad will still be riding to slot Sagan into position for the sprint finishes.
“I go from kilometer zero, from the start to the finish. We don’t have a train like Omega or Giant, but what makes Peter so special is that he can duck in and take profit off other trains,” King told VeloNews after the press conference. “I can do virtually everything; I am there to do a job for Peter.”
Sagan, 24, vows that he can win stages as well as contend for the points jersey all the way to Paris. In 2012, he won three stages en route to his first green jersey; last year, he could only muster one win but secured green easily.
“The green jersey is enough,” Sagan said. “If I can win some stages, it’s better for me and the team, but the green jersey is enough.”
Sagan, always a man of few words for the media, didn’t want to speculate about his future.
“Do you know your future?” Sagan replied when a journalist asked if he would be staying with Cannondale in 2015.
When another journalist asked if he could some day become a GC candidate, Sagan replied: “Every year, same question. Look to an answer from this question from last year’s press conference.”
King looked on with a smile as Sagan fielded questions from the media.
“He leads by example. He won’t crack the whip, but at this level, at the Tour, it demands the most out of you, without him demanding it of you,” King said of Sagan.
“He’s a one-in-a-generation rider. I remember racing against him, which is far less pleasant than racing for him. The videos he posts, the fun he has on the bike, and the bicycle is an extension of him. He is almost super-heroic.”
Cannondale once again offered up a custom paint job for Sagan’s bike, and extended it to the entire team. Sagan returns to the Tour this year with “The Wolverine” as his alter ego.
Each rider was asked which animal best reflected their personality. At first, King almost chose the lobster, because he enjoys eating them and he’s from the East Coast. On second thought, he chose the grizzly bear.
“I almost chose a lobster, but that’s an insect of the sea, it’s something you eat, so that’s not cool,” he said with a laugh. “I chose a grizzly bear, because it’s native to North America, like me. And it’s tall, much like myself. And it also eats salmon, which is a delicious food. It’s fun to be here with Peter and the entire team.”
King doesn’t want to dwell on the bad luck from last year, when he crashed in the opening stage, and then was time-cut by a merciless UCI jury by just seven seconds in the team time trial in stage 4.
“Last year taught me to control what I can control. I want to stay focused on my race,” King said. “I am here to work for Peter, and that’s what I am focused on now.”