This time last year, Ted King (Cannondale) was already back at home and out of the Tour de France. The Cannondale rider had been thrown from the race for finishing outside of the time cut during the team time trial. King was suffering with a separated shoulder going into fourth stage and finished just seven seconds outside of the time cut.
The manner of his departure was tough for King to take and he sees the Tour de France as unfinished business. It has not been a bed of roses for King on his return to the Tour. Like many riders, he had had one or two meetings with the tarmac, but he is taking it all in his stride. "I'm obviously licking my wounds but I'm happy," he told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 8.
"Last year, I got through one day and half a week, and that was extremely difficult to leave under the circumstances I did. Every day I'm feeling a little bit stronger and it was a big confidence boost to pull for literally five hours. Things are good."
After his ignominious departure from the race last year, King is tentative about thinking too far ahead. However, his performances over recent days have given him a boost of confidence. "I'm pretty positive about making it all the way to Paris," said King. "I'm taking it one day at a time. My goal is to be an impactful team player in this, on this team and with the ambitions we have."
With no general classification hopes, Cannondale are putting all their resources behind Peter Sagan in the sprints. The Slovakian is looking to add the green jersey to his palmarès for the third year running and King has been brought in to support the sprinter.
Sagan has been hugely consistent, with stage 8 being the first time he finished outside of the top five during this year's race. However, stage victories have so far eluded him. He came within inches of victory on stage 7, but was ousted by Matteo Trentin. Rather than looking at the result as a disappointment, King prefers to take the positives from it.
"As a team we're psyched. We've got the green jersey, which is the primary goal and we've been top five in every stage, which is nearly unheard of," King explained. "We're growing in confidence. You look at who was in the finale yesterday, every sprinter was dropped and that’s what shows what kind of rider Peter is. I mean he’s so much more than a sprinter, so the opportunities are going to come."