Hometown Hero: Charlottesville’s Ben King will compete at 2019 Tour de France

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Charlottesville cyclist Ben King is riding in this year’s Tour de France, which begins this Saturday in Brussels, Belgium.

After winning two mountain stages at last year’s Vuelta a Espana this year, King earned his first Tour de France start since 2014. He will be riding for team Dimension Data, one of the last teams to name their eight-rider roster for the Tour. 

“Last year was in some ways a breakout year for {King],” said the team’s statement. “as he impressed with two stage victories at the Vuelta a Espana.”

Their squad is aiming for stage wins at the Tour de France from fellow teammatyes Edvald Boasson Hagen, Michael Valgren, and Steve Cummings. Motably absent from the roster is Mark Cavendish, who won four Tour de France sages in 2008, six in 2009, four in 2010, five in 2011, three in 2012, and two in 2013. No explanation was given for his absence, but he has struggled in recent years after recovering from Epstein-Barr virus and a series of crashes. In Cavendish’s absence, the team has selected sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo, who won a stage of the recent Tour of Slovenia. 

“It’s a squad that carries a huge amount of experience and will look to challenge by way of aggressive racing, while at the same time staying true to our team’s goal of changing lives through bicycles,” read the team’s statement.

Born in Richmond, King resides in North Garden, Va., where he rides and trains. He graduated from Monticello High School, in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2007 and  attended Virginia Tech before turning pro in 2008.  

After a 2016 season in which he took a stage win at the Tour of California, Team Dimension Data selected King for their 2017 squad. H=e has played a pivotal role as a leader and mentor for the team’s younger climbers. 

Last August, he won the first Grand Tour stage of his career at the Vuelta a España and backed this up with another victory on stage 9.

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