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King continues in Cannondale green, will get shot at 2014 Tour de France

MILAN (VN) — Ted King will continue in Cannondale’s green colors next year and is on track for another Tour de France start, general manager Roberto Amadio confirmed on Thursday.

Amadio, who returned to Italy from New York today after finalizing 2014 details with the team’s title sponsor, said King plays an important role in two-time green jersey Peter Sagan’s success.

“Maybe the journalists had their doubts, but his future with Cannondale was never questioned,” Amadio told VeloNews.

Amadio and the team’s new majority owner, Cannondale, extended the popular American rider’s contract for one year, through 2014. The Girona,Spain-based 30-year-old is the only U.S. rider in the 27-man team for next year.

Amadio agreed that it helps having an American, given the team’s sponsorship with the bike manufacturer based in Connecticut and owned by Canadian conglomerate Dorel. There is more to King’s place in one of Italy’s two UCI ProTeams, however.

“He’s an intelligent rider, he can express himself well,” Amadio said. “He has a big appeal and is popular with the American fans, which is important for the sponsor, but above all, he has to be able to ride his bike well.”

It is easy to overlook riders like King, Alan Marangoni, and Kristjan Koren, but their work allowed Sagan to close the season with more victories than any other WorldTour rider. According to CQRanking.com, Sagan won 22 races, three more than Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

King assisted Sagan in the classics, from E3 Harelbeke to Brabantse Pijl, and in the Tour de Suisse, USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Tour of Alberta, and Grand Prix Cyclistes Montréal and Québec. He was set to ride for the team’s prolific finisher in the Tour de France, but officials time cut him in the stage 4 team time trial while he was nursing a separated shoulder suffered in a stage 1 crash.

“He’s a team player, he was there in all the races,” Amadio said. “He’s made a jump in quality this year. He was unlucky at the Tour with his crash on day one in the Tour. He wasn’t able to show his true potential, but he’s always been there giving his all in the other races. That should be noted.”

King crashed and separated his shoulder late in the chaotic opening Tour stage to Bastia. He survived the other two Corsican stages but was unable to hang on in the Nice team time trial, coming unhitched from the Cannondale train early in the stage and finishing alone.

“It’s been heart breaking,” he said the next morning when he left the Tour. “I’m crying on the inside. I’ve already cried a few times today.”

King later told VeloNews that he planned to be back for another crack at the Tour and Amadio said Thursday he wants to make sure the American gets that shot when the Tour opens on July 5 in Yorkshire, England.

“I’m convinced that he will have his chance next year. Of course, there will be a team selection based on who’s in form and who’s best suited, but he should be there in the classics and Tour de France,” said Amadio. “I want to give him another chance in the Tour, especially after what happened this year. He cares for the race a lot and we could feel his suffering this year when he had to pull out. If he’s in condition, like I think he will be, I think he can be there on the Cannondale list.”

King will be in the Italian Dolomites when the team meets at the end of November for its first training camp ahead of the new season.