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Ted King: ‘Sagan can count on me’

American reflects on a 2013 that saw him assist in 15 of Peter Sagan's 22 wins and looks ahead to a run at the 2014 Tour de France

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MILAN (VN) — Ted King’s welcomes another year of domestiques’ work in Cannondale’s green. The Italian team renewed his contract through 2014, expecting the American to help Peter Sagan and make a return to the Tour de France.

“It will be our fourth year together,” King told VeloNews via telephone from California. “It’s feeling like family.”

The 30-year-old from New Hampshire joined the Italian UCI ProTeam, then Liquigas-Cannondale, in 2011 from Cervélo TestTeam. The hardest part at the time was not the racing but the language. As King learned Italian, the team grew more and more international, speaking several languages.

The team will retain its Italian license in 2014, but could consider itself American. After Cannondale purchased a majority stake in the team following the close of the 2013 season, the squad is more closely aligned than ever with the Connecticut brand owned by Canada’s Dorel Industries.

King has served as a consistent setup man for Slovak star Sagan over the last three years and proudly talks about his assist rate in 2013. King was there from Milano-Sanremo to the Grand Prix Cyclistes Québec and Montréal. Of the 22 times Sagan won this year, King was on the road 15.

“It’s an honor to be on his teams because the managers are selecting rosters to win a race. You have to earn your spot. It’s not a coincidence,” King said. “I feel appreciated, too. If he wins a race and you don’t factor in the race, you didn’t pull or bring him to the line, then you might not get those congratulations afterwards. When you are part of it, then you get the praise, the high-fives, the pats on the back, and the beer afterwards. It’s not a result as pressure from him because he’s just cool and calm. He doesn’t have to crack the whip because I just want to be there.”

At 23 years old, Sagan already has Gent-Wevelgem, four stages in the Tour de France, and two green jerseys in his palmares. This year, he finished second at Milano-Sanremo and the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). King will hope, in 2014, to help move Sagan to the top step in one of cycling’s monuments.

Tour redemption for Ted King

King’s other goal is to return to the Tour de France. Cannondale selected him to race this year but he only survived four days. He crashed on day one, separating his shoulder, and fell behind in the team time trial on day four. The Tour organizer gave him no mercy though he missed the time cut by only seven seconds.

“I want to give him another chance in the Tour, especially after what happened this year,” general manager Roberto Amadio told VeloNews in a recent interview. “If he’s in condition like I think, he will be [on the Tour team].”

King was gracious after reading his boss’ comments, and acknowledged that there is much to do between now and the Tour’s grand depart in Yorkshire, England, on July 5.

“Roberto’s an honorable person and strong leader, so it was a great honor to hear that praise. Like he said, though, there are no guarantees unless your name is Peter Sagan or Chris Froome,” King said.

“It’s the highlight of so many cyclists’ careers, so many don’t even make it. I’m happy just to have made it versus not making it at all, but that being said, I feel I have unfinished business in the Tour. That is going to be a target for me. I’m going to building up for that after the classics and the Tour of California.”