Alumni Update: Ben King, TdF Wrap Up

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We’re finally there.

Stage 20: 54 km TT

The longest individual time trial I’ve ever raced at the end of my first grand tour tested my fortitude. I ground out the first 45 km and raced the final 10, taking the corners very carefully (slowly) which was enough for 41st.

Over an outdoor feast of burgers and fries that night, we went around the table and shared our favorite moments of the tour. I wanted to say, “tomorrow.” But truly, that moment of collective reflection could have been the most special moment of my Tour.

Stage 21: 140 km

The ceremonious final stage of the Tour de France is the most romantic day of cycling in the year. For 85 km we parade slowly through Paris toward the Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe honoring the yellow jersey. Everyone respects the tradition. Yet awaiting us are eight laps around the historic boulevard. The first time under the finish banner triggers the final brawl for glory.

As a seventeen year old with my Hot Tubes Junior teammates, I saw the Champs for the first time. I had closed my eyes and imagined the road lined with screaming fans, the smells and sounds of racing, the pain, and adrenaline.

I reveled in the memory and what it meant for me, everything it has taken to get from there to here. The aches of the hardest three weeks of racing vanished on the Champs. I covered attacks early on, and after three laps we focused on Ramunas for the sprint. I never dreamed we were capable of the team effort we made. I dragged the team in a row to the front with two to go, then faded to the back. On the final lap, I surged to the front again, took my boys down the backside of the circuit then swung off. Afterwards each of us took his pull for Ramunas who lunged for 3rd place against all of the sprinters who had hauled themselves through the Alps and Pyrenees.

We took a traditional final lap around the Champs as a team and paused before the Arc for photos. The celebration began at the team’s private party in the US Embassy and continued through the morning. I thought it was all over, and was shocked to see many of you at the airport in Charlottesville with the local news. I’m just glad I wasn’t wearing compression socks and shorts or anything ridiculous!

Your support has been overwhelming… All I did was finish a race. I am humbled and grateful. Thank you.

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