An emotional Ted King (Cannondale) was at the start of stage 5 of the Tour de France in Cagnes-sur-Mer, but race judges refused to allow the American rider to continue after he finished outside the time limit in the team time trial.
The 195-rider peloton rolled out towards Marseille, King would not be amongst them and could only share his emotions and disappointment with the media and then find comfort with his parents, who had arrived to follow their son in his debut Tour de France the day before.
"I'm shredded. It's been an emotional rollers coaster for the last four days and especially the past 12 hours, they've been sickening," King said, often struggling to talk due to his emotions, but managing to control his anger against race organisers ASO and the UCI judges who showed no mercy despite him fighting the pain of a separated shoulder and finishing just seven seconds outside the time limit.
"I'm crying on the inside right now. I've already cried a few times. My folks are in town and only got in yesterday. It's been a difficult to travel for them because my father had a stroke 10 years ago," said King. "I wanted to race for them, and it's tough not being able to. They're so tremendously supportive. So is the team, they understand and know that all I want to do is race."
King also appreciated the support he received from fans around the world via Twitter and the internet.
"The outpouring of support from across the world has been amazing, but I'm shredded. It's been heart warming to feel the support," he said.
"I wanted to race, it's the Tour de France," King said, the emotions welling up inside him and affecting his voice.
Not pointing fingers
It would have been easy for King to criticise the race judges and the Tour de France organisers, or even is own Cannondale teammates, who did not wait for him after he was dropped just two kilometres into the 25km team time trial. His SRM power metre indicated that he finished inside the time cut, but the official timing ruled otherwise. The record breaking average stage speed of 57.841km/h set by Orica-GreenEdge also played against him.
King refused to vent his anger, showing his class and intelligence, while still letting out his frustration and emotions.
"I'm not going to point fingers. There's a lot of ambiguity in there. I'm not looking for generosity or a hug from ASO, I'm looking for some empathy and some understanding of the situation," he said.
"There are rules for a reason and there are exceptions made here and there. That's what I'm torn up about. I woke up half a dozen times in the night thinking it was a bad dream. I wanted to wake and hear it was a different story but it was bad to see things were still the same and that I was out of the Tour de France."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.