American Ted King will start his first Grand Tour in Venice on Saturday and the Cervélo TestTeam rider is looking forward to the experience after an early setback at the Tour of California.
King, who heralds from New Hampshire, was originally scheduled to ride the race in early December, when the team met at their inaugural training camp. However a fractured arm at the Tour of California threw his racing plans up in the air. "Luckily the bone wasn't displaced that much and it was a relatively small fracture, so with the right support and doctors, I was able ride within a week."
After a short stay in the US with family and friends King began training hard before returning to Europe to resume racing in April. "I was going to do three one-day races, but ended up racing for three weeks, including the whole Ardennes week and then the Tour de Romandie, as well."
As for his Giro aspirations, the 26-year-old was hoping to use the race as a learning experience, despite the excitement. "It's an obvious statement but I have to take it day-by-day but there's a whole host of emotions running through me right now.
"The team also really focussed on working for Carlos Sastre and it will be my job to keep him out of trouble on the flat stages. He's our central focus.
Having the reigning Tour de France champion in the team is a huge bonus, according to King, who will be tasked with the job of supporting Sastre in the flat stages. "He's really self-sufficient but what surprises me is how humble he is. He has the right to behave like a superstar and have an ego to match, but he doesn't. I'm pinching myself when I think about how lucky I am to work for him."
During the race, King will room with the experienced Ukrainian Volodimir Gustov, a veteran of over a dozen Grand Tours. "I don't speak Russian and his English isn't exactly wonderful but we mix it with some French and Spanish. But it's a total learning experience so if I notice he's horizontal then I go and lie down too. Not with him, of course."