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ATOC Post-Race Interview with Ted King
PHOTO: John Watson - Prolly Is Not Probably
The Amgen Tour of California has been wrapped up for a few weeks now, the Giro ended the other day and the USA Pro Road Championships took place yesterday in Greenville, North Carolina. Each of these races featured prominently from the Liquigas-Cannondale squad with numerous stage wins and a top spot from Tim Duggan at yesterdays race in Greenville. However, we took a minute of time from one of the men who was instrumental in delivering his teammate Peter Sagan to the line a monstrous five times. He has been known to stop by the Rapha Cycle Club in San Francisco to talk coffee and bikes on more than one occasion. We introduce to you — Ted King.
JD: First off, what is your full name? There was some confusion in the realm of Twitter over Phil and Paul calling you "Ed King" for most of the Tour of California.
TK: Edward Carrington King is my born legal name. Nickname Ted. Grew up a Teddy and somewhere around the start of my professional career I jumped to Ted.
Well, now that we have that out of the way…Great job at the ATOC this year. You killed it and you were definitely one of the fan favorites as one of the hometown heroes here in the States.
Hey thanks very much. I definitely had a blast at this race. It’s nice to have some good form when racing back here on home soil since these week long American tours are getting bigger and better every year.
Being Californian and a three-time winner, there are more “LEVI” signs on the side of the road than anyone else. But, the motivation is right up there with the fitness when I hear my name hollered every few minutes. It was a pretty awesome week for sure. And the success of the team didn’t hurt.
So, how did it go? You had a bit of a crash on the first day which left you with a couple broken ribs? How did that go down?
With the exception of about five minutes that I would catalog as terrible - that is, my stage one crash - I would call the week a stunning success. That stage one was designed perfectly for Peter (Sagan). It’s a straightforward, rolling profile stage with back-to-back-to-back category three climbs in the middle and one proper climb towards the finish. Then a 25km drag race to the line. So, in theory you drop the sprinters towards the end and help shuttle Peter to victory. But, then Peter flatted with five or six kilometers to go, I dropped back to the caravan to help pace him back up in the final frantic Ks. We had just arrived to the front of the bunch and were settling in when a rider came careening into me at a 45 degree angle from my left. It wasn’t a rubbing of shoulders, it was like a Mack truck hitting me.
I ended up talking to the guy afterwards and he was apologetic. He’s a good sprinter, well respected in the European bunch and truly doesn’t know what happened. He rubbed wheels and basically high-sided himself straight into me. I wasn’t fuming so badly because I look back at it and look at the videos and I’m just absolutely amazed that the outcome wasn’t worse than it appears. I hit the deck at 50kph and only had about 3 square inches of skin loss - only later, upon breathing, did I find out how bad it was.
And did you know that they were broken and just ignore them? Or choose to not get them fully checked out until the end?
I was bumped and bruised, but I can’t tell you how nice it is to wake up not stuck to your covers the morning after a crash (as in, not crusty and covered in bloody scabbed sheets). No, I didn’t know I was broken. Basically you’re riding a high of adrenaline in addition to having some good swelling up the entire right side of my body which actually helped keep the pain in check, as odd as that sounds. So, that in addition to knowing that we’re defending a jersey makes for a tough-guy week. But drinking a celebratory beer stage after stage after stage (after stage) also eases the pain some.
What was the overall feeling coming from Camp Sagan throughout the week?
I’ve been explaining it like this: if we win one stage this week, we’ve made our Tour a success. To win two is icing on the cake. So fast-forward and to win five? FIVE?! That’s absolutely ridiculous. Look, Peter is such an anomaly in the cycling world that I don’t think we’ll see anything like that performance for a long, long time. Sure the guy out climbs the sprinters and out sprints the climbers… but he also out sprints the sprinters and often out climbs the climbers. He’s something special for sure; Peter is a pleasure to work for and has a lofty career ahead of him.
Which stage was your favorite overall? And if you were allowed to "go for it" for one of the stages, which one would you have chosen?
That’s a tough one. The organization has done an amazing job putting together a proper Tour of California, north to south, obviously side stepping some of the high mountains to avoid last year’s run-in with the snow. I’ve been able to train and race all throughout California over the years and have some good feelings all throughout the state. So answering your question directly, that’s something of a toss up between the opening stage in Santa Rosa where I’ve spent a particularly large amount of time, or maybe stage three which hits both San Jose and Diablo, where there were tons of folks out cheering, dressed up, and being awesome.
Gravel? I know you like the dirt roads. What would happen if they added a few gravel sections to some of these races?
I love me some dirt roads! Once you know that you can ride dirt, especially with a road bike, there’s an entire new world of opportunities. I smashed some gravel training right after Roubaix when I was back cruising through New England. I think that could definitely add some spice to California.
Did you learn anything new about the great state of California?
Umm… I haven’t spent all that much time in LA proper, so I learned that Los Angeles definitely knows how to have a good time. A world class bike race, followed by a playoff hockey game, a rooftop party, a playoff basketball? All in 80 degree basking sun. I like my four seasons, but in a pinch I’ll take it.
How does this race compare to some of the European races that you have been doing? I know it doesn't have the same fanfare as the one day Classics such as Roubaix and the like, but we're trying…
And you’re doing a great job! Okay sure you don’t have the 800,000 fans lining the roads like you do in Roubaix or Flanders or Amstel. But, rather than the golf-clap and luke warm enthusiasm like you often see in Europe during the dreary Classics, we have the Borat bikini bottoms, gorilla suits and the Where’s Waldo outfits. The fans in California are pretty amped up and that makes for fun racing.
I know that you're a bit of a coffee connoisseur, what is your daily routine when you're on the road like this?
It all depends on where I’m spending time on the road. Back in America it’s a safe bet that you’re within a few minutes of a decent coffee shop. I have high standards in my coffee consumption, but I’ll also sacrifice here and there for a proper cup of coffee - that is, I sometimes go for volume more than than a scant quarter sip of espresso. Tim Johnson recently turned me onto the AeroPress which is working pretty darn well on the road. When I’m back home in Italy a French Press is my typical go-to. And when I’m set up shop in America and drinking in, there is nothing wrong with drinking from a pot of drip coffee. Don’t agree with me? Suck it up!
Did you get a chance to stop by and have a shot of espresso from the Rapha Mobile Cycle Club? They had express instructions that if they saw you on the road that they were to drop everything and make you shots of espresso.
Yeah that was the rumor. Unfortunately I never saw the 4 wheeled Rapha mobile, so I didn’t get any of the good stuff. I did train a bit in Mill Valley the week before the Tour, so I ventured into SF and into the Club itself. That held me over throughout the week.
Ok, now that the Tour of California is out of the way, what is next for you? TdF?
We’re off to the US Pro national championships over Memorial Day weekend in Greenville, North Carolina. I’ll tackle just the road race, while my American cohort Timmy [Duggan] will go after the time trial as well. And from there I’m due in Europe a few days later and have Tour of Suisse on the calendar. Hopefully after a strong showing at California and a solid Suisse I’ll be racing in France in July. Time will tell.
Good luck with the rest of your season. We always keep tabs on you here in the office, so keep up the good work and we'll keep an eye on your blog for some more great reports from the road.
Again, thanks very much. Been a pleasure catching up.
PHOTO: John Watson - Prolly Is Not Probably
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