Ted King turned his hand to the world of gravel riding after a 10-year professional road riding career where he served as a domestique. An unsung hero of the sport, King powered many of his teammates to podium positions, including several stage wins at the 2009 Giro d'Italia. Despite having retired in 2015 already, the former Cannondale-Garmin rider hasn't lost his competitive edge - if anything he's a lot stronger, wiser and hungrier than before.
Success on the dirt happened almost immediately for the 37-year-old with a victory at Dirty Kanza in 2016. He followed this up by winning the 200-mile dirt race again in 2018 - a breakthrough year which saw him add a gamut of other titles to his palmares including wins at Grinduro, Rasputitsa Redemption and Vermont Overland, as well as a second-place finish at the Belgian Waffle Ride.
2019 was another successful year on the gravel bike for King who recorded a string of wins and podiums in a number of ultra-distance races. He also competed in both the Dirty Kanza and Leadville 100 where he finished in 8th and 13th spot respectively in two highly stacked fields.
Before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic turned the entire cycling world on its head, King participated in a few races which included a podium placing at the SugarCane 200 but that's as far as his 2020 racing ambitions progressed.
To help get through the months of cancelled events and races, he set up the 'DIY Gravel (opens in new tab)' season to celebrate the original gravel event dates. The idea exploded with upwards of 3,000 people signing up and logging their big-days out - all in celebration of the love of gravel.
As part of King's DIY Gravel campaign, he set out on 310-mile gravel ride which took in 34,000ft of climbing charting a path from the tip of North Vermont down to the south. It took him 20 hours and 40 minutes to complete the feat, which formed part of his own 'little' Dirty Kanza. Asked why he traversed an extra 120 miles, the former road pro said that "people are doing 200-mile rides at the drop of a hat so I wanted to make this a bit bigger."
The American still has strong ties with his former equipment supplier - Cannondale - who currently provides him with a SuperSix Evo, Synapse, Topstone, SuperX and Scalpel mountain bike. Pictured here is his new Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty, which was released only a few weeks ago. Unlike the previous-generation model, the Topstone Lefty pairs an Oliver single-leg suspension fork with Cannondale's Kingpin rear suspension system to deliver 30mm of travel at both ends.
The bike is outfitted in SRAM's Force eTap AXS groupset and built around a 1x drivetrain configuration featuring a 46T ring and 10-50T Eagle cassette. While most of the build comprises stock componentry, King has added a garnished the frame with a selection of Zipp parts owing to his affiliation with the brand. As such, the original Hollowgram 23 gravel wheels were ditched in favour of 650b Zipp 303 Firecrest tubeless disc wheels and wrapped in 48C Switchback Hill gravel tyres. The handlebar, stem and seatpost are all from the Zipp parts bin, too. Several ancillary items personal to King's taste complete the package. This includes the BarFly mount, MoosePacks bikepacking bags and Arundel cages that secure his Untapped.cc bidons - a cycling nutrition brand owned by King himself.
Click through the gallery above for a closer look at Ted King's Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 1.
Ted King's Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 full bike specifications
- Frameset: Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty
- Front brake: SRAM Force eTap AXS, 160mm
- Rear brake: SRAM Force eTap AXS, 160mm
- Brake/shift levers: SRAM Force AXS
- Front derailleur: N/A
- Rear derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle eTap AXS
- Cassette: SRAM X01 Eagle, 10-50T
- Chain: SRAM X01 Eagle, 12-speed
- Crankset: SRAM Force AXS 1x Crankset, 46T with SRAM Force AXS power meter
- Pedals: Speedplay Pavè
- Wheelset: Zipp 650b 303 Firecrest wheels
- Bar Tape: PRO Gravel Comfort
- Tyres: Rene Herse Switchback Hill 650x48 tubeless with Orange seal
- Handlebars: Zipp XLPR
- Stem: Zipp SL Speed
- Computer mount: Barfly cycling computer mount
- Computer: Garmin Edge 1030
- Saddle: Fizik Tempo Argo R1 saddle
- Seat post: Zipp SL Speed
- Storage: MoosePacks handlebar bag and frame bag
- Bottle cages: Arundel
- Nutrition: Untapped.cc
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Aaron was the Tech Editor Cyclingnews between July 2019 and June 2022. He was born and raised in South Africa, where he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. Throughout this career, Aaron has spent almost two decades writing about bikes, cars, and anything else with wheels. Prior to joining the Cyclingnews team, his experience spanned a stint as Gear & Digital editor of Bicycling magazine, as well as a time at TopCar as Associate Editor.
Now based in the UK's Surrey Hills, Aaron's life revolves around bikes. He's a competitive racer, Stravaholic, and Zwift enthusiast. He’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, completed the Haute Route Alps, and represented South Africa in the 2022 Zwift eSports World Championships.
Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB