Ted King goes into the USPro Championships road race on Sunday as a lone gun, competing without team-mates against a tide of Garmin-Slipstream riders and other domestic opposition. However the 26-year-old American believes that despite the numerical disadvantage he can pull off a fairly-tale win in the national championship in Greenville, North Carolina.
King has been back in the United States for little over a week after completing his first full season on the European circuit, a highlight of which was competing in and finishing his first Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia. However it’s the national road race, a big aim for King, that he’s now focused on.
“All my eggs are in that basket,” King told Cyclingnews. “There were a lot of time trial specialists here with Tom Zirbel and David Zabriskie, so I didn’t fancy the time trials.”
“I know that with no team support the road race is going to be a long shot and being up against the likes of Garmin will make it harder as they have strength in numbers, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think that I had a fighting chance,” he said.
King won’t be the only high-profile European based rider racing in the event. Columbia-HTC’s George Hincapie will also ride solo after his only team-mate, Craig Lewis, was struck down with H1N1 – commonly referred to as swine flu. However like Hincapie, King will be looking to play his cards when it matters. “I don’t have to show my face until the big hitters start to factor in the race and the European experience I have will hopefully show,” he said.
But for King even competing in his national road race holds a unique place in his heart. “It is special,” he said. “It’s been a phenomenal year and as the only American at Cervelo it means even more that they have faith in me to be here.”
King will have support from outside of the peloton. As a Carolina resident he’s made use of a good network of friends to find a mechanic, a driver and a soigneur who’ll collectively help him through the race.
“It’s been a lot of hard work in the making and a lot of planning,” he said. “I have a lot of friends here in Carolina. There’s been a lot of network but I’ve got some really generous friends in the area.”
Win or lose King still has plenty to aim for in the coming weeks, with the Tour of Missouri fast approaching and selection for the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Road Championships still undecided. After a first full year in Europe though, King will be looking for a strong end to the year.
“I m really looking forward to going back next year,” he said. “Finishing the Giro was the dream come true and the entire European experience was an absolute blast. We’ll have a strong team for Missouri with Thor [Hushovd] and Heinrich [Haussler] and the US hasn’t announced the team but that’s a target on my radar. I’d go there to support the big guns.”