Virginia native Ben King continues to climb the ranks of cycling’s elite and put another notch in his water bottle this past weekend at the Tour of Beijing in China. The race is in its first year, but drew the sports biggest teams to the East to compete, including HTC, Garmin and King’s RadioShack.
In his first WorldTour stage race, King donned the white jersey (awarded to the best rider in the field under 25) and was impressive throughout. During stage three of five, designated the Queen Stage (the most difficult stage of a multi-stage race) King overtook his juvenile rivals and was able to hold off several assaults to finish with the Best Young Rider title. Holding a slim two-second lead for the white entering the final stage, King credited his teammates with helping him finish on the podium.
“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,” King said in a blog post.
The victory is a major one for King, both personally and professionally. Apparently, team RadioShack had many sponsor reps at the race so look for King to make more serious waves in 2012. Following last year’s victory at the USA Cycling Professional Road Race National Championship and the road race at the U-23 National Championships, King has positioned himself as the next great hope in American pro cycling.
“This is really special for me. It is my first WorldTour stage race and it has been an incredible experience to have my teammates taking care of me,” King said. “Last year I was just doing my best in US domestic races. I am young and want to improve and having the trust and support of teammates is the best way to learn.”
King placed 12th overall in the final standings, with HTC’s Tony Martin taking the overall victory. King is from North Garden, just outside Charlottesville, VA.