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GREENVILLE, South Carolina (VN) — As Timmy Duggan took the top step of the podium at the USA Cycling Professional National Championship road race Monday, his Liquigas-Cannondale teammate Ted King stood to the side of the stage, fighting back tears. Not only have the two formed a close bond as the lone American members of the Italian ProTeam, their championship weekend in Greenville, South Carolina, was a real do-it-yourself affair.
Lacking their team’s usual mechanical, coaching and other supports, Duggan and King were responsible for staffing the weekend from soup to nuts. They attended the race’s managers’ meetings on Friday and Sunday. On Saturday, King was in the follow car as Duggan took seventh in the time trial. On Sunday, they prepared water bottles in a friend’s kitchen as their rivals relaxed across town.
And as for feed zone support? The pair enlisted their own “Greenville militia.”
“Oh, you won’t see them, but they’ll be there. They’ll be jumping out of the bushes in full camouflage,” joked King, before the race, of the dozen or so local friends who lent their time and energy to supporting the pair’s ride.
After the race, both riders welled with emotion, expressing heartfelt appreciation for their supporters and for one another.
“This is a really emotional win,” explained King following the podium ceremony. “I mean, with the infrastructure we pulled together, the friends and family we had here in Greenville? It’s hard not to be emotional. I mean these people are doing this on their own time. It’s huge.”
King clearly took special pride in watching his friend succeed.
“Timmy was slaying it all last week [at the Amgen Tour of California],” he said. “He deserves this. I mean it’s the national championship. If I’m not going to win it, then Timmy’s the number one guy I want to see up there and vice versa.”
Duggan shared similar sentiments about his teammate, who finished 18th on Monday. A year ago, it was Duggan watching King on the podium, in third.
“I owe so much of this [victory] to Ted. The last couple of years we’ve become really good friends on Liquigas and we’re definitely kind of a package deal,” he said. “The funny thing is that the same thing happened last year when Ted was on the podium. Seeing him up there was one of the best days of my career and I wasn’t even the guy on the podium.”
Both Duggan and King serve as domestiques, typically sacrificing personal ambitions in support of their team leaders. It’s a role for which there’s often little recognition. But that may be changing for the pair. Their high-profile pace-making in support of Peter Sagan’s five Tour of California stage wins landed them a good bit of television face time and high praise from race commentators.
“I was just out there doing my best and I guess I got a little more attention than I usually would for doing my domestique job. It was kind of a nice change of pace,” said Duggan.
Despite their high-profile exploits, both riders admit to having taken satisfaction in their added weekend duties.
“It was a throwback to my amateur racing days in a lot of ways,” said King.
“You make your post-it notes and you say, ‘I’ve got to do this, this, and this.’ There’s a whole different level of things to think about. But when it comes together like this, holy smokes is it worth it.”