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Supporting Sagan leads to Tour ticket for King

Ted King’s Tour de France debut comes thanks to putting in the miles for Cannondale’s star, Peter Sagan. After a successful run in the classics and years of domestique duties, the 30-year-old American will line up for cycling’s biggest event on June 29.

“I wouldn’t register it as giddy, but it’s something I’ve been striving for for a long time,” King told VeloNews in a telephone interview Wednesday morning. “The crux of my 2013 season has been to make the Tour team — I’m absolutely thrilled. And it’s still almost two weeks before the race starts, still plenty of time to absorb this and get ready for the race.”

King trains at altitude this week in La Molina, a ski resort high up in the Pyrenees and a one- or two-hour drive from his base in Girona, Spain. It is a just setting for him to reflect on his accomplishments this season and what is in store at the Tour de France.

Sagan, a 23-year-old from Slovakia, was strong from start of the year through the classics. Though he failed to win any of the Monuments, he was near the bull’s eye throughout. King assisted Sagan each time, helping him place second in Milano-Sanremo, second in E3 Harelbeke, first in Ghent-Wevelgem, second in Ronde van Vlaanderen, and first in Brabantse Pijl.

The Italian team wants that same support for its star in the Tour de France, where Sagan won three stages and the green jersey in his debut last year.

“You look at the roster we’re sending and it’s heavy on supporting Peter, almost exclusively. He’s calling it the perfect team for him,” King said. “He has huge aspirations to go for a second green jersey and, absolutely, the goal is to be working for him. That’s most likely where I punch my ticket.”

King said that with Sagan, the pressure is minimized.

“Peter is such a trust-worthy captain. He knows his job, handles the pressure exceptionally well for someone in his position and for someone as talented and proven as he is,” King said.

“The short answer is no, we don’t feel any undo pressure, we know the job at hand, to be racing for Peter. If you look at the season he’s having, the career he’s having, at a young age, I’m not concerned at tackling any bullet points: whether it’s one win, three wins or five wins, whatever.”

First timers

Garmin-Sharp has yet to announce its team, but Andrew Talansky is expected to help lead it. Out of the Americans due to start, he and King will be Tour first-timers.

King, who raced the Giro d’Italia, says the Tour checks another box on his list.

“It’s been a goal. I got a late start in the sport, I started in college when I was 18-19 years old, it wasn’t the aspiration when I was eight to nine years old like a lot of typical cyclists,” he said. “To find myself at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Giro or Paris-Roubaix, they have all been phenomenal and exciting, but you race them for what they are. The Tour is a similar one. It’s definitely sort of the last big check mark on the races I’ve wanted to do.”

Besides Sagan, King will race with Maciej Bodnar, Alessandro De Marchi, Kristjan Koren, Alan Marangoni, Moreno Moser, Fabio Sabatini, and Brian Vandborg.