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Tour de France

Boswell: It was either the Tour debut or a tractor parade in Vermont

Ian Boswell among Katusha-Alpecin's eight-man Tour de France squad, headlined by Marcel Kittel and Ilnur Zakarin

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Ian Boswell (Katusha-Alpecin) did not want to think about missing out on racing the 2018 Tour de France, but had it been so, he would have been at home in Vermont watching the tractor parade this July.

Boswell dreams came true, however. Wednesday morning, Katusha-Alpecin announced that the 27-year-old American would be part of the support squad for team leaders Marcel Kittel and Ilnur Zakarin for the three-week race.

“To be honest, I was telling my friend and my fianceé that I didn’t want to think about it. I just trained as if I was going to race the Tour de France. I didn’t want to have any doubts in mind,” Boswell told VeloNews.

“Most definitely, this is really a dream come true. I’m more emotional just being American. It’s something I worked towards for a long time, kind of the reason I was drawn to cycling.

“I’ve done the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, other big races, but I feel more nervous and excited about this. I feel more like an excited kid being selected for this than those other races.”

Boswell switched teams this offseason after riding his first five professional years with Sky. He supported Chris Froome in the Vuelta a España twice, and in races like the Critérium du Dauphiné, but it was a fight to find a place among the top domestiques in Sky’s Tour de France team.

That place never came, and in the winter this year, Boswell jumped ship to Katusha. The team has been building with GC hopeful Zakarin and brought in super sprinter Kittel from Quick-Step this winter.

“I think it’s a testament to my career path, a reassurance to why I came to this team. To be a helper for a strong guy like Zakarin,” he explained.

“Zakarin is capable of a podium finish, he did so in the Vuelta last year even with the support he had. He was sometimes isolated on the final mountains without many climbers. He’s a very versatile rider, we reconned the cobblestones and the TTs together. To my surprise, he’s a lot better than me over the cobbles. He’s someone like Froome, who doesn’t think, but just rides hard.”

Zakarin and Kittel will have six men to divide among them depending on the terrain: Boswell, Robert Kiserlovski, Rick Zabel, Nils Politt, Pavel Kochetkov, and Tony Martin.

Boswell’s journey to Vendée in northwest France began in America’s northwest, in Bend, Oregon. He followed his parents’ passion, literally, attached and pedaling behind their tandem bike. Finally, he took his mom’s road bike to begin to ride solo at 11 years old. After riding with Axel Merckx’s Bontrager team, he joined Sky in 2013 with fellow American Joe Dombrowski.

“I think I remember watching the Tour first in 2000. I knew about it before but that was probably the first time I followed it,” Boswell said.

“It was a childhood dream. But these years, it felt like it was getting more elusive for me, so to get that goal, it’s self-satisfaction, but I’m not going there to ride around. I made it clear to the team after some disappointment in Tour of California that I was only going to go if I was ready.

“I’m so please I worked to this, to get to this point. Nervous? Now, I’m more cautious in training around Nice. I don’t even want to have a stupid fall.

“You work so hard to get selected for an event like this, you set yourself up for three weeks of work and fatigue, now all the work’s been put in and the real effort will begin soon. Once you get there, you are back at square one for three weeks.”