The 2022 Volta a Valenciana has been a race to remember for Human Powered Health™ with Ben King kicking off the year in excellent style by winning the climber’s classification in dominant fashion.
Consistently at the business end of the racing, the American dominated the climbs during the first two rolling stages to pick up 30 points in total, beating a raft of general classification favorites that included a 16-point margin on overall winner Aleksandr Vlasov (BORA – hansgrohe).
“It feels great to help start the season on a positive note,” King said afterward. “It was an honor to end up on the podium in such a stacked field.”
How it happened
On day one, King infiltrated the breakaway and ended the stage with a five-point lead over stage winner Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) to pull on his first KOM jersey of the season. The next day, along with US national champion Joey Rosskopf, King raised his tally by leading over four of the route’s five climbs. This meant that by stage 3, the Virginian was mathematically certain of winning the jersey and just needed to make it to the final finish line in Valencia.
“Our strategy to take and defend the KOM jersey put it out of reach for anyone else early on. I’m proud of the performance and am happy with my condition and the atmosphere on the team.“
Ordinarily, making it to the finish line is a somewhat simple task but the team’s fortune aside from King’s jersey was anything but clear. Teammate Gavin Mannion was forced to abandon the race after a stage 1 crash due to a disc rotor injury and Rosskopf crashed hard on his elbow on stage 3, unable to continue.
“It was tough losing Gavin and then Joey crashing out as well,” King said of his teammates. “They’ll be back but it’s a hard pill to swallow in the first race of the year.”
Mixed emotions coming out of the first race of the season but one thing is for certain, there’s no better way to start the year than a trip to the podium.
“It’s a great way to start but there’s still a long way to go. No doubt the heavy load from this week will be a fitness boost,” King added.
While the Valenciana squad will see the arrival of some additional climbing talent ahead of another slate of hilly races on the Iberian peninsula, the men’s sprint train heads to the four-day Tour of Antalya in Turkey.
Eri Yonamine has also done a recon of one of the climbs King led over in preparation for the women’s team debut at the Volta Comunitat Valenciana Fémines starting February 17. Will this week’s result repeat itself?
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Volta Valenciana KOM standings
1 KING Ben – Human Powered Health 30
2 VLASOV Aleksandr – BORA – hansgrohe 14
3 TRATNIK Jan – Bahrain – Victorious 10
4 EVENEPOEL Remco – Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 8
5 RODRIGUEZ Carlos – INEOS Grenadiers 8