RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond native Ben King is one of three Americans currently riding in the Tour de France. It’s the biggest stage in cycling, and while it’s a thrill for his family and friends in Richmond, Charlottesville and elsewhere to see him tackle the tour, it also brings out the nerves.
“It’s awful, it’s terrible,” says King’s uncle, Dan, of what it’s like to watch his nephew in a tour stage. “You think it’s going to be fun and exciting, you’re going to be cheering him on, but it is so nerve-wracking.”
Of course, there are plenty of things that Dan is fan of when it comes to seeing Ben alongside the best in the world. That’s why he’s always glued to some sort of device whenever his nephew is on the course. He sees Ben succeeding in a sport he seemed destined to pursue.
“Ben was never going to be a football star,” Dan recalled, “and he couldn’t play basketball.”
His uncle adds that he was a good runner, then fell in love with cycling, just like his father, Mark, and Dan. Still, Ben didn’t compete in his first race until he was 16 years old, even though he would ride along during more recreational ventures.
“He would go out on group rides when he was so little on borrowed bikes that were too big and he was good,” remembered Dan.
Even as Ben grew to elite status, his family members still felt they could beat him in a sprint. That is, according to his uncle, until about two years ago, when Ben turned it on and pulled away from the group.
As for King’s job with his Tour de France team, Dimension Data, it varies from day-to-day. He might be trying to pace the sprinters, or, on a more mountainous stage, he could be trying to break away from the pelaton. Either way, that’s where the nerve-wracking part comes in, as family and friends hope that Ben can avoid being involved in one of the tour’s infamous wrecks.
“There’s so many crashes and there’s so much carnage everyday that you’re just really praying and hoping... it’s super nerve-wracking.”
Nevertheless, Ben is powering through, and even though he may not be donning a yellow jersey in Europe, there is plenty of support and pride back in Virginia.
“He just works so hard and this is the biggest payoff this sport has to offer, and he’s earned it. It hasn’t been gifted to him. He’s earned everything he’s received.”
Ben’s team Dimension Data sat in 16th place after 11 stages of the tour. This marks his second Tour de France, as he also competed back in 2014.
Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.