CAGNES-SUR-MER, France — American rider Ted King fought back tears Wednesday as the Tour de France peloton rode away without him because he was too injured to complete the previous stage in regulation time.
Some competitors felt race regulators were overzealous in excluding the Cannondale rider for being a fraction too slow in the team time trial.
“Rules are rules, but it is a little bit tough, isn’t it?” said Richie Porte of Team Sky. “It does seem rough.”
“I’m shredded,” King said.
To compound his misery, the exclusion came as his parents were arriving in France to cheer him on at what had been his first Tour.
Cannondale said King missed the cut by just 7 seconds. Tuesday’s team race against the clock on a 15½-mile course through Nice, won by the Orica GreenEdge team, was the fastest in Tour history, which made it harder for King to keep up. Cannondale said its managers appealed without success to the race jury to allow him to continue.
He separated his left shoulder and got nasty scrapes in a crash during Stage 1. Race organizers had a hand in that pileup: They contributed to panic in the peloton by changing the finish after a bus got stuck at the end of the route. After the bus was finally freed, organizers then changed their minds and reverted to the original finish.
“I would have hoped for more empathy given the scenario,” King said. “I’m not looking for generosity; I’m not looking for a hug from (race organizers) ASO. I’m looking for some empathy, some understanding.”
King’s shoulder was too sore for him to ride his time trial bike Tuesday, so he had to race on a less aerodynamic road bike instead.
“I knew I was going to be suffering. I can’t yank on the bars as a result of the shoulder,” he said. “I’m crying on the inside right now. I’ve already cried a few times.”
On Twitter, people posted messages of support with the hashtag LetTedRide.
“It’s been tremendously heartwarming and the support has been phenomenal,” King said.