Tuesday was even crueler than Saturday for American rider Ted King, if that's possible to say after the latter saw him end up in a Corsican hospital, ruling out upper body fractures. Saturday, well, that was when the crash happened, a chaotic mess of a pileup that took out King, his protected Cannondale teammate Peter Sagan, and several others as the pack sped toward an uncertain, possibly blocked, maybe relocated finish to Stage 1 of the Tour de France. As crashes go, this was a pretty galling set of circumstances, beginning with the Orica-GreenEdge bus getting stuck at the finish, Keystone Kops style. But crashes are forever a part of cycling.
Which is why Tuesday was the crueler day of the two. Unable to ride in an aero position in the Team Time Trial, King rode his road bike with some clip-on bars and hoped for the best regarding the time cut, which mandates that riders must finish within 25% of the winning time. That set the cutoff at 32:24, but King was recorded as having come in at 32:32. As far as the race jury were concerned, he was out.
As far as King was concerned, he wasn't. Not looking for special dispensation (time cuts don't come with many exceptions), King asserted that he thought his time was "31-something" and his computer showed him at 32:15 -- the time he himself recorded. King went back and assessed his SRM data and tweeted the following:
By my count, I'm at 32:24. I'm honestly not sure where 32:32 is from. pic.twitter.com/bebYFMBL0e— Ted King (@iamtedking) July 2, 2013
Where did 32:32 come from? The race jury, but how they got that, nobody knows. They had gone home for the day before the issue bubbled to the surface. I guess we'll know more tomorrow. King says he doesn't think he had a timing chip on his bike. If he did, that would constitute pretty good proof. Why some riders have them and others don't, I have no idea. If he didn't, then it would be nice to know where the race jury got that time reading from. A photo or video?
All this confusion, plus King's popularity (he's a nice and very accessible guy), have led to the #LetTedRide hashtag, which is currently overwhelming the hamsters running the treadmills in Twitter's server room. It's kind of a fascinating moment -- can social media, sense of fairness and ambiguous facts erase a seven-second deficit at the Tour? Cycling has a way of squashing everyone's dreams, so I'll guess nothing changes. But by the time I wake up tomorrow, or more to the point by the time the race jury wakes up, this could become another strange and interesting twist in this already very odd Tour.