Cannondale Pro Cycling team rider Ted King was eliminated from the Tour de France yesterday. This is the result of his performance in the Stage 4 Team Time Trial. He finished in 32 minutes 32.60 seconds (32:32.60). He apparently had to finish in 32:25 in order to stay in the race, because of a rule that says that all riders must finish within 125 percent of the time of the stage winner.
In the case of a Team Time Trial, the winning time is the time of the fastest team, which was 25:56. According to many accounts of the stage, this was the fastest team time trial in the history of the Tour de France.
Ted King separated his shoulder in a crash on Stage 1, and apparently felt that he could not race on his normal time trial bike. Using a time trial bike requires riding in a lower body position, which would be more painful to adopt with a separated shoulder. So he rode a standard road bike with clip-on aero bars.
Race juries have discretion to not eliminate riders who crash and finish the stage, or are suffering through injuries. It's hard to understand why King was not afforded this sort of consideration, especially since this stage set an all-time record for the team time trial.
Thanks to Twitter, we have a great deal of access to Ted King and what he is thinking. An example is this tweet, where King shares data from his cycling computer:
By my count, I'm at 32:24. I'm honestly not sure where 32:32 is from. pic.twitter.com/bebYFMBL0e-- Ted King (@iamtedking) July 2, 2013
Anybody who's raced in a timed race has had a time gap between their personal timing device and the official time. I can understand why a rider like King in a professional race might put a bit more credence in his bike computer's time than I can put in my HRM in amateur races. I believe that King knew that he had to finish under 32:30, and perhaps this was why he thought he did.
Twitter erupted in support of Ted King yesterday, with the hashtag #LetTedRide trending for much of the rest of the day after the race jury had ruled.
The race jury's decision was not reversed, so King did not start Stage 5. I am quite disappointed and so should anyone be who loves professional cycling. Ted King fought valiantly against his injuries yesterday, has represented himself with class throughout this ordeal, and deserves another shot at the Tour some day.
Photo credit: Ted King, talking with Tour de France media, about the disappointment of being cut from the race by 7 seconds, from VeloNews.