Ben King, a Richmond local, will join team USA at the upcoming UCI Road World Championships. King, who is under contract with American professional cycling team Cannondale Garmin, will compete as part of the USA’s five-man elite men’s road race team.
King was born in Henrico County and grew up around Charlottesville. There, his father introduced him and his brothers to cycling. “All the boys in the family ride so it's something that bonds us,” he said. King studied marketing at Virginia Tech, but dropped out to pursue cycling as a full-time career.
Although King has been living in Lucca, Italy for the last five years, he still considers Virginia his home. “It feels strange returning to Virginia for a bike race,” he said.
However, replacing a vacation back home in Italy with a competition has its perks: King said he’s looking forward to seeing the faces of fans back home.
“I do my best to describe my adventures on the road and racing to friends but now they will have a chance to see it live,” he said. “People follow my career via Twitter and Instagram, but that is so remote and it's going to be amazing to see their faces on the course.”
King, who captured second place at the 2015 U.S. National Championship time trials, will play the role of a “domestique,” or a support rider. “There are a thousand intricacies and tactics in the sport,” he said. “A beginner fan might not appreciate the team dynamic, but cycling is as much a team sport as any other.”
As a domestique, King will ride in front of his teammates to help them conserve energy for the race’s later circuits. “The rider in the slipstream does 30% less work than the rider ahead,” he said. “Therefore, there are many roles that riders can play to wear down the competition and save their leader.”
Despite being best known for his support role, King is also particularly skilled at breakaways, according to Cannondale Garmin. A breakaway occurs when a cyclist attempts to sprint away from the main pack of competitors.
These strengths helped contribute to his stellar individual performances. King took first place at various prestigious competitions, including the U.S. National Road Race Championships, the Shenandoah 100, and the Criterium International in France.
Although he returns to Richmond frequently, King has remained vigilant in preparing for the race because he doesn’t think there is a clear home field advantage. “Since the circuit is in the city and all riders will have ridden it before the race, I don't necessarily consider that an advantage,” he said.
The UCI Road World Championship will take place from Sept. 20-27. King’s race, the Men’s Elite Road Circuit, will take place on Sept. 27 and start on the University of Richmond’s campus.
“The start and finish are most fun. Since its a circuit race fans can park where the want, party, and cheer us on every lap,”King said. “What team USA has going for it is pride and the rowdiest fans out there!”
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