Ted King Interview: Fresh start with Liquigas for the King of Style
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Monday, November 08, 2010

Ted King Interview: Fresh start with Liquigas for the King of Style

by Ed Hood at 1:32 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
American rider moving onwards after Cervelo Test Team demise

Ted KingThe Cervelo/Garmin merger may have left a few riders high and dry or having to drop to smaller setups for 2011.

But some riders have moved smoothly over to pastures new; take Ted King - or as the Giro start sheets used to say, 'King Edward.' He has been competing with the Swiss team and will now switch across to Team Liquigas, thus continuing his career with another top team.

King will join up with another US rider there, Garmin-Transitions’ Timmy Duggan, and both will be in line to provide Grand Tour backing to riders such as Vincenzo Nibali or Ivan Basso.

King has done two Grand Tours to date, riding the Giro in 2009 and again this year. It remains to be seen if he will make it three in a row next year or if he will get a chance to ride his first Tour de France.

The 27 year old chatted recently to VeloNation, sharing his thoughts on a range of topics. Amongst other things, he discussed the end of Cervélo, the move to Liquigas, his plans for the weeks ahead and the 2011 season, his thoughts on the Boston Red Socks versus the New York Yankees and, most crucially of all, the King of Style….

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VeloNation: You were two years with Priority Health, then a year with Bissell. How did you get the Cervelo gig?

Ted King: The same year that Priority Health morphed into Bissell, I had something of a meteoric rise through the ranks. My second year pro I was ranked somewhere in the mid-70s on the US National Racing Calendar, but in 2008 I was the top American and second overall.

The right people apparently caught wind of that because I was soon on the phone with Gerard Vroomen (co-founder of Cervelo) hearing all about the soon-to-be Cervelo Test Team. This was immediately following the 2008 Tour de France, so at the time he had to speak superficially. He wouldn't name names, but I'm told I was the third rider to sign with Cervelo behind a pair of guys named Carlos and Thor.

VN: The end of Cervelo – was it a surprise?

TK: The foundation upon which Cervelo was built is impressive and I really think is a revolutionary blueprint upon which to build a team - having meaningful relationships with sponsors, fans, and media was definitely different than anything I would have seen elsewhere as I'm jumping into Europe in 2009.

Towards the end, I could see a small shake up possibly coming down the line, but I certainly didn't expect the team to end the way it did so abruptly. I would have liked to repay with loyalty the initial risk Cervelo took on me, but that's the nature of the sport. With my contract ending at the end of 2010, I was already looking around to see my value elsewhere in the event I was not to return in 2011.

VN: How did the Liquigas deal come to pass?

TK: From the end of the Giro this year through late August, I was approached by a handful of teams about where I'd end up in 2011. Around the middle of that period, Liquigas-Cannondale entered the picture. Obviously Cannondale is really stepping up their stake as a sponsor to come on board as the co-title sponsor, and that shows their passion to develop a global position in the cycling world.

Ted KingI maintain strong ties throughout New England so as a Connecticut company, I was excited by the prospect to get back on a Cannondale, which is the first road bike I ever owned. The management at Liquigas was very straightforward and easy to speak with so, ready for a new challenge, I signed sometime in late August.

VN: Will you be taking Italian lessons over the winter?

TK: Ha, nice question. Sí e no. Living in Spain the past two years, I've been speaking Spanish as much as possible and have high school Spanish to fall back on.

It's definitely helpful that the two languages are similar - I found that out the moment I crossed the finish line at the World Championships and had my first face-to-face meeting with the Liquigas general manager. Ten minutes of mostly fluid conversation later, I was on my way.

When I initially signed, I immediately went out and bought Rosetta Stone and have been logging a daily regimented thirty to sixty minutes. Being on the move as much as I am, enrolling in a proper sit-down course is tough, so this is a nice alternative.

VN: You're you a Girona man - will you continue to be based there?

TK: Girona truly has been the perfect place for me the past two years. What I continually tell people is that the town has everything I need; good terrain, good weather, great people, and is a fun pedestrian place.

It'll be tough to say goodbye to friends there, but for the sake of honing my Italian, I'll be moving to Italy.
I live the philosophy that life is an adventure, so while Spain has been plenty of fun, I'm psyched for a new chapter in Italy.

VN: With the Cannondale involvement, will you have more US racing in your programme?

We have team meetings in early December and I'm sure we'll discuss a more complete race schedule then. To have completed two Giros in my first two seasons in Europe has been a highlight, and with as much success as we had (six stage wins and a GC podium in my two Giros), that's something I can take with me forever. That said, as one of two Americans on the team, I'm confident and really excited that I'll see more racing stateside.

I've raced three Tours of California, but all three in the bitterly cold and wet February editions. To see it in May should be awesome.

Also the Tour of Colorado with its unique Quiznos name should be a big hit in its first year. The presence Liquigas has made on American racing the past few years shows that they're here to race and aren't just on an American vacation.

I didn't race a single time in America this year with Cervelo, so getting back into race mode with a team in America's biggest events will be nice.

VN: Is now a good time to be a pro cyclist, given all the uncertainty about teams?

TK: Geeze, that's a toughie. Seriously, I think any time to be a pro cyclist is a good time. We're paid to ride our bikes. I'll repeat that, we're paid to ride our bikes. Okay, probably not the answer you're looking for, but I'll stick to it.

Cycling is dragged through the mud all the time - oddly, it seems that it's cycling's own doing as much as someone else doing the dragging. There's always an ominous cloud hanging heavily over the sport and that's a shame. Look, I think right now is a great time to be a cyclist. The new Luxembourg team, despite its veil of secrecy, promises to make a big impact on the sport based on roster alone.

Ted KingThe teams moving up from Continental to Pro Continental seeking Pro Tour status (BMC, Fly V, and TeamType 1 come to mind) really show development and globalization for the sport. The growing relationships between teams, sponsors, and geographic regions - exactly like Liquigas-Cannondale - promise to make cycling a better and more exciting sport as well. I'm a fan of cycling as much as the next guy and I'm excited for the future.

VN: You've done two Giros. They reckon that your first Grand Tour makes you a better rider, once you recover - would you agree?

TK: I'll be perfectly short and sweet. Yes. It's hard to quantify, but the fitness gains alone are enormous. And if nothing else, to make it through a three week grand tour is as much a mental boost as anything else. The confidence I've gained in my first (and second) grand tour from strictly a mental standpoint is huge.

VN: Tell us about your involvement with the Krempels centre, please.

TK: My father suffered a stroke nearly eight years ago and immediately my family's lives changed 180 degrees.

In short, it was an immediate retirement from orthopaedic surgery for Dad, as he's said he's now a prisoner in his own body, and my mother has adopted the roll of being Dad's caregiver. It’s certainly not the life we ever expected.

Dad is now a member at the Krempels Center, which is an incredible organisation for people with brain injuries and their caregivers throughout the New Hampshire sea coast. The center is full of daily activities ranging the spectrum from re learning social and life skills, helping people regain their confidence, as well as being a therapeutic place to relieve yourself of the stresses that come with this affliction.

People with brain injury are a demographic whom I never would have known about were it not for the life-altering stroke in our family.

I started selling t-shirts about one year ago and decided immediately to donate a portion of proceeds would be rewarding. As of now, we've sold a few thousand more shirts than I ever would have expected and we've expanded the line to stickers, sweatshirts, and other shirts.

Additionally I go to Krempels a few times per year to shed light on what it means to live the life of a professional cyclist entails. Airing November 15, NH Chronicle will air a show about me as a professional cyclist at the highest level of the sport. You should be able to find the show online; it will touch on the ties I maintain to New Hampshire specifically with my family and the Krempels Center.

VN: I believe you're very concerned by environmental issues?

TK: Hmm, another toughie. I'm a member of the group 350.org who's mission is to lower the carbon in our atmosphere to below 350 parts per million, simply because greater than that is projected to be impossible to maintain human existence. That would be bad. I'm as guilty as anyone else, but it's just funny that we're so tied up in our daily lives, that we ignore issues that will ultimately cause our demise.

I don't mean to be overly cerebral here, I just think a little thought in day-to-day lives - whether it's a travel mug, using public transportation, or turning off the lights - would make a much bigger impact than we'd ever care to imagine.

VN: How does the winter pan out for you?

TK: After the World Championships I spent a week with my cousins in Australia. I returned to New Hampshire and spent most of the month all throughout New England. Time with family and friends whom I don't see for eleven months out of the year is precious so I savour that.

I do a few sponsor events and talks to attend here and there which kept me on my toes but are plenty of fun; I've spent a ton of time in the kitchen since cooking is a big passion of mine and is something I steer clear of in the season with its prolific amounts of pasta.

Now with the calendar showing November, I'm off to Napa, CA for three weeks of training, a quick swing through New England for Thanksgiving, then off to Europe for meetings, camps, and the big show.

VN: How are the Boston Red Sox doing, do you manage to see them much ?

TK: It's an integral part of hailing from New England that you're a member of Boston Red Sox nation. It's tough to attend many games since I live and work an ocean apart from Fenway Park, but with some very benevolent friends, I make my way to at least one or two games per year the past dozen or so years.

It's also part of my duty as a Sox fan to denounce those poor souls who unknowingly wear a New York Yankees hat merely for the fashion (mis)statement.

['In' joke - aimed at the writer's buddy, Martin! Ted spotted the Yankees hat on Martin's head, two K from the top of a mist cloaked mountain top Giro stage finish, swerving across the road towards us and enquiring, 'Yankees? Why the hell are you wearing that?']

I've been known to tell people my thoughts on the Yankees before, during, and after races.

VN: What's with the 'King of Style' nickname?

TK: 'The King of Style' is my super secret alter ego born over at iamtedking.com, but let's keep that between us. With the gratuitous amount of flair in our sport someone needed to voice his humble - and correct - opinion on certain stylistic matters in order to police the situation at large.

White shoes or black shoes? What length of sock is appropriate? What colour bar tape compliments your new bike? As a cyclist clad in spandex and awkward faux leather shoes, what is proper etiquette when in a coffee shop? You can find out all these questions and more with the King of Style.
 

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