Tour de France Cyclist King Returns to Charlottesville

By: Nate Sulham Email
By: Nate Sulham Email

It was a return fit for a King.

Nearly three dozen family members and friends packed Gate No. 2 at Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Airport Monday night to welcome Ben King back to Charlottesville after the Monticello High School alum had spent the last three weeks competing in the Tour de France.

"I'm absolutely blown away," King said. "All I did was finish a race. It's really humbling, really awesome to see. This is my family so it means a lot. It kind of feels like a graduation. I made it in cycling to a certain point and definitely accomplished a goal."

The large crowd was mainly decked out in yellow in a show of solidarity for King, who became the first Virginian to cross the finish line in the cycling world's biggest race.

King said competing in the race is a dream he's had since he was a child.

"It's the biggest race in the world, so that's a big deal," King said. "Yesterday was a really big day. To come on the Champs Elysee (the Tour's home stretch) is something I've been fantasizing about since I was a kid."

King raced as part of the Garmin-Sharp team and finished 53rd individually, but the Monticello grad focused the credit on his team.

"I had a great group around me all week," he explained. "We took some hard knocks during the race but no one lost morale. We showed our fighting spirit throughout the month and came away with a stage win and a couple Top 10's. I think we can be really proud of the effort we put in."

King said his experience the last three weeks only fuels his desire to race in the Tour again next year.

"The team was built with a long-term plan in mind. We were one of the youngest teams in the Tour so we're just looking to build a core group of guys and keep building towards the future."

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