King steps up in the ranks

Ben King

Ben King (Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)

By Sue George

With up and coming young riders like Ben King, the future of cycling looks bright. After a successful final year in the junior ranks including two junior national titles, King is stepping up to join the Kelly Benefit Strategies / Medifast Pro Cycling Team.

Like many other college freshmen, the 18 year-old King enjoys spending time with his friends, being outside climbing, snowboarding, bow hunting and fishing, or playing the guitar, but in addition, he's also balancing his studies in the business school at Virginia Tech with the training and racing needed to compete with America's top pros.

With the New Year, King has made the move from the Hot Tubes junior development racing squad to the Kelly Benefit Strategies / Medifast Pro Cycling Team directed by Jonas Carney where he'll join team-mates including Andrew Bajadali, Alex Candelario, David Veilleux and Nick Waite.

King first caught the notice of Hot Tubes' director Tobias Stanton when he was just 16 and sitting in third place at the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic in Massachusetts in 2005. He ended up racing for the squad in 2006 and 2007. "This kid climbs like an angel," said Stanton, "He's an extraordinarily good kid. He's humble, gritty, and tough. He's pleasant to be around."

"When he learns how to race, he'll be a monster. When he's smart, he's unbeatable," said Stanton.

King was just that - unbeatable - at the US Junior Nationals in Seven Springs this past summer when he won both the Junior 17-18 road race and time trial titles.

"I spent the 2007 season trying to make it back on the Worlds team," said King who is from North Garden, Virginia, but resides in Blacksburg during the academic year. "Winning nationals was the only way to guarantee that. Nationals is one of the big races we get to do. I put a lot of pressure on myself to peak for that race. I trained specifically for that all season."

"I had good legs," said King. "When I showed up, I was coming down with a cold. I got down [mentally] before the time trial. I had done everything I could all season and almost didn't race. When I got to the halfway point, I heard that I had some time, so I just went harder and tried not to lose it."

Before the national road race, King and his team-mates had talked about keeping the race together and "not trying to go with anything or waste any energy until two laps to go." Things didn't go quite according to plan.

To read the complete feature, click here.

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