One year ago, then riding for the BISSELL team, Teddy King unleashed a late attack to win a stage at the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, AR. Fast forward to now, and the 26-year old King is racing in his first Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia with his Cervélo TestTeam.
I had a chance to talk with King earlier this season to get his first impressions of his new team. (Note that I had planned a second conversation with King prior to the Giro but due to circumstances, it didn’t work out. I debated about posting but then decided to go ahead with it.)
King had a quite the year in 2008, finishing second on the individual NRC standings and making a name for himself in the American peloton. After contacting the Garmin squad without getting much of a response during the year, King “told someone who will remain nameless, a connected individual in cycling that I was interested in making the jump to Europe.”
At that point, King had not heard about the Cervélo TestTeam when lo and behold, a week later, he received a phone call from co-owner Gerard Vroomen.
“It was a humbling phone call. He phoned me up and did not mention the names [of his future teammates]. He laid down the philosophy of the team, European racing, Pro Continental team and it sounded like an awesome opportunity.”
King flew over to Europe for just one day of meeting and that’s where he learned that Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre had also joined the team. “I was ‘where do I sign’.”
Once the roster was completed, King’s new squad included Sastre and Tour de France green jersey winner Thor Hushovd.
“It’s humbling. These guys are my teammates and I don’t have to read about them in a magazine anymore and whenever I tell somebody that they say ‘you know what, don’t sweat it, you’re there too, there’s a reason you’re on this team’ . You can take it in stride but at the same time you can see how human they are, it’s a blast.”
Volume. The most noticeable change in his training was sheer volume for King with back-to-back-to-back long training rides.
“The season is going to be so long, you don’t want to go too early which is why I’m giving myself this huge base so volume is key. It’s not huge intensity really early but basically it’s money in the bank, these huge blocks of low intensity training to build up that base.”
Building from year to year. “I look back at my training over the years and each year you crank it up a little bit. I won’t say that there was a huge jump from last year to this year but yeah these is a noticeable difference and it is the volume.”
Another change was the two-week long training camp, a time-length that was new to King however nothing really surprised him at camp as “the universal language of cycling, it’s really dorky, is weather.”
As he also wrote in his blog (go read it, it’s good) – “You come back from vacation or a training ride or whatever and you immediately talk about the weather. This off-season going into the camp in Portugal and you say how’s the weather in Norway, or France or Australia or wherever.”
One thing that did surprise him somewhat was how little people rode their bikes during the off season. “There are a lot of guys who, there are coming from Germany or Norway and you can’t ride when in -20, they’re out skiing, I mean they’re doing something aerobic for sure. The Nordic skiing is a phenomenal training tool.”
King is enjoying the multi-cultural aspect of the team, as the squad includes riders from Spain, United States, Norway, Australia, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, Ukraine and Belgium.
“The biggest chunk of non-English speakers is Spanish, that’s the only international language that I have is Spanish from high-school but at this point, I’m seven or eight years removed from that so I haven’t spoken a word of Spanish since then and I’m having a total blast talking to the Spanish riders, the staff, the soigneurs and so forth. That culture difference has been a lot of fun.”
King ‘s goal for his first year with the team is to help the squad whenever he can.
“I had a lot of success in America given the different style of racing, I can sprint, I can climb, I can time-trial pretty well but I’m not a specialist like a lot of these guys so just throwing a hand where I can help across the board as much as I can.”
King is still exploring his avenues as to what type of rider he is and wants to be – one day at a time.
“Obviously, Carlos and Thor are the faces of the team and I’m by no means a Grand Tour contender like Carlos or a sprinter like Thor. Jumping into the deep end like this team is, the only thing I can do is plot my own course, not necessarily copy one rider or another so take each race one by one, day by day, it’s sort of cliché but it’s all you can do.”
King suffered bad luck at the 2009 Amgen Tour of California when he crashed early on in stage 3 and broke his arm. He then returned to his home in New England to recuperate before flying out to Europe to race at the Ronde van Drenthe in the Netherlands in early April. He quickly followed with Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège amongst others.
When the Giro d’Italia was mentioned during our chat, King smiled and said “I would love to do that.”