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By Andrew Hood
Ted King’s debut with his Cervélo TestTeam didn’t quite go according to plan, but he’s already recovering from a crash that short-circuited his season debut at the Amgen Tour of California.
His teammate Thor Hushovd won stage 3, but King was forced out of the race earlier in the stage after a freak spill left him with a busted up arm.
Luckily, surgery wasn’t necessary and the 6-foot-3 King is anticipating a fairly quick return to the peloton.
King is also the only American on Cervélo, an international squad that includes riders from Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ukraine, Germany, Norway and England.
The 26-year-old turned pro with the Bissell team in 2006 and enjoyed a breakout four-win 2008 season that helped him make the leap to Europe with the Cervélo TestTeam for 2009.
King is also an avid blogger and has an entertaining site full of musing and observations of life on the road.
King is currently at his New Hampshire home recovering. Here are excerpts from an e-mail exchange and an interview at the team’s training camp in Portugal in January:
VeloNews: So how is the recovery coming along?
Ted King: I’m recovering from my busted arm here in the States. It’s good to be at home with the family, speaking my language, and using my own currency, but I’d much prefer to be racing right now.
VN: Tell us how the crash happened?
TK: The crash itself completely baffled me at the time. We were going dead straight, pancake flat, and only about 20km/h. Beats me why, but the guy directly in front of me veered left and planted his foot leaving me no where to go besides straight into him. Given how slowly we were going, I would normally have thought nothing of it, but when I remounted my bike I thought, ‘Oooooh boy. This pain is not normal.’ My clothes were completely unscathed, but somehow I broke my arm?! Go figure. I tried to gut it out hoping that I’d just wrenched it awkwardly, so I raced another 20 minutes. Unfortunately, that stage went straight up Sierra Mountain for about 10km, so it didn’t take long yanking on the handlebars to realize the arm was, in fact, broken.
VN: What exactly is your injury?
TK: The way I fell, my arm went straight up rapidly. The tendons and muscles connected to the top of the humerus (upper bone in the arm) effectively tore the bone apart. It sounds weird that soft tissue would out-perform the hard bone, but according to the doctors, it’s not an uncommon injury. Being doctorly and technical, it’s called a fractured greater tuberosity.
VN: So you haven’t had to have surgery?
TK: The race doctors at Tour of California gave me the same prognosis and diagnosis that my sports medicine specialist gave me here at home. That is, the fracture was displaced only minorly, so surgery would be more invasive and much less helpful than had I fractured a clavicle, for example. So I’m waiting it out. I was on the trainer just three days post-crash and in the gym daily since then.
VN: How long until you’re able to race again?
TK: The time table is about two to three weeks of absolutely no risk of falling on it (meaning, I ride the trainer) and then I should be racing again six to eight weeks from the pile up. The risk of falling on it in the meantime would require pretty intense surgery taking me out for months on end, not just weeks. Weighing that risk/reward, I’m okay with resting up right now. Seeing how well the team is performing is keeping me motivated. I’m champing at the bit to get back out there.
VN: So home for you is New Hampshire?
TK: I consider home New Hampshire, I was born and raised there, went to school in Vermont and since then I’ve bounced around looking for good weather.
VN: How did you land the contract with Cervélo?
TK: I had a very successful year last year and apparently impressed the right people at the right time. With the state of cycling back in the States, with the number of teams folding and riders looking for jobs, it couldn’t have happen at a better time.
VN: Did you have previous contacts with the Cervélo staff?
TK: To be honest, it was a surprise to me. I was trying to get in touch with Slipstream-Garmin. I was interested in trying to get to Europe, but it was a failed effort. I got a call from Gerard Vroomen. To get a call from Gerard was great. I was one of the first riders to sign. His philosophy of the team is revolutionary, and at that point, they still hadn’t said Carlos Sastre was coming here.
VN: Have you raced much in Europe before?
TK: In 2005, I raced in the U23 national team, a full season to get my feet wet. It was trial by fire. You get chucked into the deep end and see if you swim.
VN: What are you expectations in your first season racing in Europe?
TK: I have a two-year deal, which is excellent. Thankfully, we have a phenomenal roster. We also have a lot of young riders, 21-25, it’s a young team. I’d like to have some success my first year, but I will be getting a lot of experience.
VN: What kind of races do you expect to do?
TK: That’s been interesting. I sat down with the directors, they asked, ‘what do you do?’ I had success in America across the spectrum. I could time trial, race a crit, sprint a bit, but it’s a whole different beast over here. My expectations are to learn a lot. That’s what’s great with this roster.
VN: What kind of rider do you aspire to become?
TK: I look at a guy like Jens Voigt, an all-round rider. I can sprint a bit and climb a bit, but I am not going to be at that elite level of super-climbers. Being an all-round rouleur would be a good inspiration. You can race all year round. I saw him last year at the Tour of California and spoke to him briefly in the elevator. It’s humbling, but now you’re at this level.
VN: Is this a dream come true to make it to a top international team?
TK: It’s been a vision and aspiration, but as you’re cruising along, you never know what’s going to happen. Half the sport is luck. Who you met, who took a liking to you, how you did in a certain race in front of the right people. This is a hard-luck life, but it’s a blast to be here in Europe.
VN: What are your impressions so far with the Cervélo team?
TK: I am coming to a team that his more soigneurs than last year had staff. You cannot even compare it. It’s a great team for me. It is a whole different animal over here.
The training rides, we go faster, that’s normal. I look down and see I am going 5km faster than I normally go. I feel very well accepted on this team. I will be working with Marcello Albasini, who has worked with a lot of young, up-and-coming guys from Switzerland.
VN: Where will you be based in Europe?
TK: The team has a team house in Switzerland, where the warehouse is located and the team offices. I will live there, and some of the other younger guys will live there, too. I cannot imagine making the jump 10-15 years ago, thrown into a French team, not speaking a lick of French. Hats off to them, holy smokes. We speak English here, but we have a large contingent of Spanish speakers, so I am practicing some of my Spanish.
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