It was a day of firsts.
RadioShack’s under-23 development team, Trek-Livestrong, started the season at its first UCI Cat. 1 stage race, the Tour of Qatar. Eight riders lined up shoulder to shoulder for the opening 8.2km stage, which was their first team time trial together.
A roaring tailwind got the young men up to speed quickly, but the ensuing crosswinds as the course turned complicated the rotation.
“We lost a few guys early on,” said Australian Ben King. (There are two Ben Kings on Trek-Livestrong; the other is American.) “Once you got from eight guys to five guys, it gets a hell of a lot harder. But that’s bike racing. The wind was terrible. Sapping. I did a turn just before the last roundabout, and they kicked out of it, and I had nothing.”
King was the team’s fifth rider to finish, a few seconds back from the front group of four, and stopped Trek’s clock at 10:30, 39 seconds off Team Sky’s winning pace, for 15th place.
The team’s other riders in Qatar include Justin Williams, the American Ben King, Julian Kyer, Cody Campbell, Alex Dowset, Jesse Sergent and Taylor Phinney.
At the start, Williams was very focused, staring straight ahead and taking deep breaths.
“I just wanted to do as much as I could for the team,” Williams said. “I wanted to do my work and get out of the way. But actually I had really good legs. I came out of one of the corners and we hit it a little hard, the group kind of split a little bit. We’re still learning, still getting there.”
Kyer said he was just glad to have the stressful event out of the way.
“I felt like crap this morning. And I was like, ‘What is this? Why do I feel so bad?’” Kyer said. “Then I realized — oh, that’s what feeling extremely stressed feels like. I’m just glad it’s done.”
Phinney said he felt good.
“It’s an 8km TTT, so it’s bound to hurt. But it was a nice opener,” he said. “Tomorrow is where the real business begins, and where we find out how we’re going to do in this race. My goal, and the goal of most of the guys, is to make it in the front group one of the days. It’s going to be hard for everybody.”