Editor’s note: Ben King is a first-year professional with Team RadioShack (Related: Ben’s previous VeloNews diaries)
Stage 4: 190 km
Tiago went in the six-man early breakaway, but with 60 km of flat highway before the finish, the peloton dragged him back for another hectic bunch sprint. My teammates cared for me all day by blocking wind, getting bottles, and tossing their own chances to keep me in the white jersey. While heading to the podium after the race is exciting, receiving such service from my teammates, the same service I have done my best to provide others throughout season, is inspiration for the next time someone else sits in the driver seat.
Stage 5: 118 km
Despite a mere two-second lead in the white jersey competition, my teammates made it impossible to lose the jersey on this wide-open circuit. I tried to forget about “what-ifs.” What if I crash? Everyone in the peloton gets the same finishing time unless there is a gap larger than 1 second. What if someone sits up? Drops the wheel? What if a young rider sticks a winning break? The only thing I knew for sure is that my guys, riders who’ve helped win the Tour de France, my friends, had my back.
A four-man breakaway with one young rider established before the twelve 8km finishing laps. The sprinter’s teams kept them close riding 50 kph.
I remember trying to calm my nauseating nerves trying to place on the podium in a U23 Nations cup last year, my first time as team leader in a stage race. To win the white jersey in a World Tour race dwarfs that in prestige. I think the calm I felt here derives from experiences like rooming with Horner when he won Tour of California, Levi when he won Colorado, and Klöden when he won the TT at Criterium International. Even with our RadioShack sponsors on course in Beijing, I focused on the things I could control, like swallowing fear and riding in good position on the last lap.
We did it. I kept the white jersey, placed 12th overall and will ride into the 2012 season with this victory.