With his 2010 racing debut under his belt, a more confident Ted King will take to the start line in the Vuelta ao Algarve on Wednesday. The Cervelo TestTeam rider took part in Etoile de Bessèges last month and despite abandoning on the final stage, the American is hoping to progress in Portugal before this year's Paris-Nice and Giro d'Italia.
King has spent his first winter based in Europe after relocating to Girona, Spain, last summer. The European hotspot is the Saint-Tropez of cycling with many of the world's current stars - including the Garmin-Transitions team - basing their rides in the city during the season. The new surroundings have helped King settle into his new way of life.
"It was a big draw being here. It has the things I look for in a training camp; good weather, almost ideal training rides; a fun town and there are some good people here," King said to Cyclingnews.
As for his own training King is positive that his winter miles will hold him in good shape for the year ahead. "It's going really well. I logged my first race in Besseges, and I leave for Algarve tomorrow. I'm really focused. A lot of my season is in the spring and I'm going into it headfirst."
King turned professional last year and went through what he describes as a "total learning year" racing from the spring through his first Grand Tour at the Giro d'Italia until the Tour of Missouri in late September. "Every race was new, but now that I've seen how the European races go down - they differ from country to country - I can recognise that and last year is something I really want to build on. European cycling is a steep learning curve, but once you get the hang of it you can go from there."
This year King will aim to bring that confident game to the Giro once again, where he'll race in support of former Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, who has signaled his intent to hit top form for the Italian race. "Instead of being on the start list nervous and wondering how the race is going to unfold, you know the races and the people around you. Carlos is really focused on that this year and that's my aim, to help him as much as possible."
Giro participation, however, will come at a price and in this case it means missing America's biggest race, the Tour of California. With the races clashing, King believes that he and his team have made the right choice in terms of his racing schedule.
"I'm the only American on the team, but for me it's win, win situation. The Giro is better choice for me and it's a Grand Tour or your home race. Obviously the Tour of California is building in size and stature every year, and I know that's great to see, but that said you never know how many Grand Tours you're going to ride in your career."