Editorial: Let Ted King Ride!
During the chaotic finish to Stage 1 of the Tour de France 2013, Ted King (Cannondale), who was riding his first Tour de France, crashed. Among other injuries, the American suffered a separated shoulder. Today, King rode Stage 4, a 25-km team time trial in Nice, using a regular road bike instead of his time trial bike because of the pain in his shoulder.
King's teammates dropped him immediately, and he timed himself as he rode, expecting to ride fast enough to stay within the stage time limit. He finished in 32:32, which was 0:07 slower than the limit. Team Cannondale urged the race jury to grant an exemption, but the judges were firm. For them, the clock does not lie.
Or does it? Today, the judges said that the clock does not lie, but the clock’s truth has undergone Rashomon-like shifts in the hands of the race jury. Today, time was absolute, but it definitely has not always been so. During the history of the Tour de France, many riders have finished over the time limit because of injury, illness, or crashes but have received exemptions. One rider, Paul Sherwen, who is now a broadcaster, received two such dispensations. In 2011, 88 riders finished outside the time limit on Stage 18, but the judges made an exception because they did not want to thin out the field. The clock seems to mean whatever the race jury wants it to mean.
Much oxygen and printer’s ink are expended about the ideals of cycling, about drama, courage, and perseverance. If these values are absolute, what could matter more than a rider who has spent his life working toward his dream of riding in the Tour de France and then pressing on despite being in agony? Who could live up to these ideals more than someone who battles up and down mountains and endures all weathers in pursuit of one’s dream? How could courage better be demonstrated than by willingly mounting one’s bike each day, knowingly risking additional injury, and pushing oneself through pain barrier after pain barrier in the hope of surviving yet another day? If those values are more than words to be uttered when one wishes to sound idealistic, the judges need to take another look at the circumstances. Ultimately, there will be only one correct decision.
Let Ted King ride!
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