If you mention controversy in connection with the Tour de France these days, what might come to mind are doping scandals that have brought down some of the biggest names in the sport- even the once seemingly untouchable Lance Armstrong. This year, the scandal has nothing to do with illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
New Hampshire native Ted King was recently cut from the race after finishing seven seconds over the qualifying time limit during a stage in the race. Many are saying King was a victim of decisions officials made throughout the course of the time trials, and called for Tour de France organizers to re-instate him.
King separated his shoulder during the first stage of the Tour, an accident that set his disqualification in motion. When one of the team’s buses was driving to the finish line, the bus got caught in the finish barrier. Officials had to decide what to do while the race was already in process.
“There was a lot of frenetic changes at the last minute,” King says. “After racing 120 miles, they were going to move the finish a mile sooner. It changes the pace of the race.”
While King says the last-minute call could have caused the crash, he says he doesn’t blame the Tour for his injuries.
As a result of his separated shoulder, King raced his next stage with an injury and a modified bike to allow him to race without curling up into the aerodynamic ball we’re used to seeing from racers at the Tour de France.“That position was something I couldn’t hold or maintain given the injury,” King said. “For the sake of comfort I opted for the road bike.”
Officials clocked him seven seconds over the time limit. That meant he had to come home. Meanwhile, the Twitter hash tag #LetTedRide spread worldwide, and supporters called for Tour officials to re-instate King due to extenuating circumstances. Tour organizers declined to do so.
King is back in the U.S. and looking to the future, while touched by the outpouring of support from fans and fellow cyclists around the world.
“It was almost beyond emotion,” King says.