Like many around the world, I was hoping to wake up this morning to news that Ted King (Cannondale Pro Cycling) had been reinstated into the Tour de France after missing the time cut on Stage 4 by 7 seconds. Alas, the Tour is not so kind to our beloved domestique.
The social media world, especially twitter, was ablaze with support for King. Hashtags were popping up left and right, with #LetTedRide trending a good portion of Tuesday night. Supporters included @letour and @UCI_Cycling in their tweets in hopes that ASO and UCI would reconsider their decision. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
The story goes back to even before the first stage. Back in 2011, King was showing great form, with a strong build up in June. Racing the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, he crashed hard when his wheel caught a gap between a drain grate and the road, breaking his collar bone, and putting his season on hold. While he was not a definite pick for the tour team, any hopes he had for 2011 were gone. Fast forward to 2013. With the chaos that became known as Busgate in stage 1, King was a victim of the crash with 4K to go. Landing hard, he separated his shoulder, but after scans came back clear, he was determined to fight on. His fans wouldn’t expect anything less from the New England native. After struggling through stages 2 and 3, team mechanics fitted his Cannondale Super SuperSix Evo road bike with aerobars since he could not ride his Slice RS TT bike. It helped, but King was still dropped in the first kilometer, and had to ride the remaining 25 on his own.
This is where things get a bit murky. It is not clear whether the team mechanics moved his timing chip to his Evo, or if it was left on the Slice. This means that race officials had to time him manually. Once the race was completed, and times were calculated, the race jury posted that the time limit was 32:35 (winning time plus 25%), and King’s time was HD, or outside the time. Looking at his SRM data, King figured he was around 32:24. When questioned, race officials declined to give a time, but eventually gave 32:32.60. They also originally declined to comment on how the time was calculated, and later said it was done by stopwatch.
While the rules are clear, they have been bent in the past. As John Wilcockson (@johnwilcockson) pointed out, Paul Sherwen was allowed to ontinue the 1985 tour, even after finishing outside of the time limit by 26 minutes. Sherwen crashed in the first kilometer, and road the entire stage on his own . His determination is what allowed him to continue to race. In 2011, Mark Cavendish and 87 others were allowed to continue after arriving 2:33 outside of the limit, due to the size of the group that was caught out on the mountainous stage 19. Like in Sherwen’s case, King was battling due to a crash. The difference though, the crash happened 3 stages earlier, and many consider the cause to be the race organizer’s fault. If King had not been injured in the crash, there is no doubt he would have made it within the time limit.
King’s Cannondale Pro Cycling Team had the opportunity to protest the results. It was reported by Bicycling Magazine writer Whit Yost (@whityyost) that the president of the race jury stated that Cannondale did not file a protest. This seems extremely hard to believe, but no official word has come from the team saying they did.
In the end, as the race departed from Nice, Ted King was not on a bike. Despite the outpouring from fans and fellow riders, ASO and the UCI decided to keep a rider showing incredible determination and fighting spirit out of the tour. His family had just arrived, and had not even had a chance to see him race. His dream is to finish the tour some day, but it will have to wait until next year at the earliest.
Take a moment, think about 7 seconds, and pour a little maple syrup out for our homie.
One other note, reigning world time trial champion, and member of the world team time trial championship team, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), was fined 2,000 swiss francs on Tuesday for having world champion stripes on his bike. Not on his kit, or helmet (that I could see), just on his bike. Really? I guess the UCI officials needed a little extra spending money while in France.