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US road champion Ben King (RadioShack)
US champion survives first attempt at Queen Classic
First year pro Ben King (RadioShack) was a last-minute draft for this year’s Paris-Roubaix after Robbie Hunter was ruled out. The first-year professional admitted that he was scared of the race before the start on Sunday but the US road champion finished the race in 76th place having spent the first half the race working for his team and surviving until the finishline.
“It was pretty special and I’m proud of having finished. I think we as a team accomplished all of our goals with a rider in the break and then a top five finish,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I was scared of this race and I’d heard so many horror stories. It’s really different to any race I’ve ever been a part of. It really is carnage with crashes all over the place and cobbles that weren’t’ made to ride a bike on.”
“I know now why people are scared of the race, why they hate it and why they love it also because it’s definitely a unique experience.”
King’s task was to mark early moves in the race and although he missed the major selection that included Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo), his RadioShack team were represented by Nelson Oliveira, with Grégory Rast latching on after the Arenberg Forest.
“I covered a few moves early on and Nelson got in the move that actually stuck. I had trouble and the hardest part for me was when the real fighting happened and staying at the front. I could get to the front but I had trouble staying there and I think that’s something you have trial and error with and you work out with experience.”
“But the fans were amazing and there were so many people on the course screaming and showing their support. You can tell they have so much respect for the riders.”
RadioShack’s director was Dirk Demol, who won the race in 1988, a year before King was born.
“He had a lot of practical advice that was easy to apply after the race on positioning and how to handle the cobbles because there’s an art to it and which line you pick and where you hold the bars and how you do it.”
In this exclusive video, King talks to Cyclingnews a day before the race about his fears and expectations ahead of the biggest one-day race.