After 15 years in the pro peloton, and a handful more competing as a top amateur, Ben King (Human Powered Health) has spent the majority of his 33 years racing bicycles. He announced Tuesday morning that the 2022 season would be his final as a professional cyclist.
“I only finalised this decision two weeks ago, so I’m still processing it,” King told Cyclingnews after he posted his news publicly to social media. “It’s sad, but also exciting… and a little scary.”
King is currently at his European base in Spain preparing to race the Tour de Suisse, June 12-21, with his Human Powered Health squad, which received one of two wildcard invitations along with Team Total Energies of France and will compete against a full lineup of WorldTour teams.
Where will he race for the final time as a pro? He wasn’t sure just yet, but looked forward to a full schedule for the year, including USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee at the end of June and the Maryland Cycling Classic on September 4.
“I do not expect the Maryland Cycling Classic to be my final race, but it will be my final race in the USA, so in many ways it will be my last opportunity to race in front of people who have supported me since the beginning of my career. It’s close to home so that makes it extra special,” King told Cyclingnews.
“It will also be my final USPRO championship. I raced my first USPRO with Kelly Benefits in 2008, so to race my final nationals with the same organisation, Human Powered Health, is cool. It’s been a special event to me since I won in 2010 and although it was so long ago that is still one of my favourite memories in cycling.”
King earned the stars-and-stripes jersey as US pro road champion in 2010 in Greenville, S.C. when he was 21 years old, having earned a bronze medal in the U23 road race the year before. At the time, he became the first rider under the age of 23 to win the US Pro road race championship.
He started as a successful junior based out of Charlottesville, Virginia, and like many Americans hit the criterium scene. After winning the state junior time trial championship as a 16-year-old, he took the silver medal in 2006 in the junior 17-18 time trial national championship riding for Hot Tubes Development, and then won both the junior TT and road race national titles the next year. The trajectory to riding as an elite rider and pro was on.
He jumped to the WorldTour the next season and spent 10 years with several programmes, winning two stages at Vuelta a España in 2018 while riding for Team Dimension Data. Both of the Vuelta stage wins came on mountaintop finishes, one at Sierra de la Alfaguara and the other at La Covatilla.
He moved to the Human Powered Health squad last season, placing on the podium twice, including a stage win, at the Volta a Portugal in 2021 and this year winning the mountains classification at the season-opening Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.
“These last years on Human Powered Health have been two of the most enjoyable of my career. This is a special team with a rare and refreshing atmosphere thanks to the management and characters involved. I raced for the team straight out of juniors and to end here tells a nice story. I’m extremely grateful to be here and look forward to the upcoming races.”
Circuit Sport, which operates Human Powered Health as a ProTeam, was King’s first pro organisation, signing him as a freshman at Virginia Tech. The team was named Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast at that time, one of the top domestic teams in the US.
“It is pretty cool that Ben started and finished his career with our team. In between it was fun to watch him racing the biggest events in the World and having success. We were all so proud when he won those stages at the Vuelta. It’s been amazing having him back in our team with all that experience," said Jonas Carney, performance manager for Human Powered Health.
"The best way to develop our younger and less experienced riders is to have them mentored by someone who has seen it all. Ben has been a huge help to us. Not just by bringing experience, but also by bringing a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He will be missed.”
The soft-spoken, hard-charging all-rounder noted it was time to spend more time with his family, now that his wife was expecting their second child. He also wanted to consider interests beyond the sport of cycling, which included an invitation for suggestions.
“The support I’ve received is overwhelming and encouraging. Thank you to everyone who has helped make my journey meaningful. I’m also open to any and all job offers for 2023!”
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Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).