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ESCONDIDO, California (VN) —RadioShack-Leopard’s Ben King crashed out of the Amgen Tour of California before the race even started.
The American took a tumble in training on Friday, just days before the start in Escondido, tearing up his hands and leaving him with a scalding of road rash.
King had finished bike testing for Trek, one of the team’s major sponsors, on a technical descent outside of Escondido, and switched back to his race bike for a bit of training. He went down hard in a corner, at speed.
“Just too fast in the corner on the descent, I guess,” he said. “I felt totally in control. I had room on the outside of the corner, and … no warning, no fishtail, I didn’t touch the brakes.
“Some tar heated up in the road, or there was some oil or something. Whatever it was I was going quite fast and leaning into the turn. And yeah, both wheels at the same time. Before I knew it I was just sliding.
“We were doing some product testing for Trek, actually. They had found a technical section where we could push the bikes. And we had finished the testing, I was back on my race bike and just went out to train a little bit.”
The injuries to his hands — he had taken his gloves off minutes earlier to eat — are what ultimately did him in, as he cannot put any weight on his bars.
“The worst is my hands. I just lost big chunks of skin on the palms. I’m not able to put any weight on it, or hold the bars,” he said.
The abandon seemed to hit the 24-year-old hard. The Amgen Tour is a major race for the young American, the 2010 national road race champion.
“I’ll be able to ride again soon, I think, but it’s frustrating,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been training well. I’ve been building my whole season up to this point, and my body feels good, apart from the crash stuff.
“I think I’m going to head home and start recovering. I’m going to talk to the directors this afternoon about what races I might have on my schedule.”
Editor’s note: Chris Case contributed to this report.