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Ian Boswell is on a tear.
While the gravel world has become accustomed to 140-plus mile courses, Boswell said that BWR Asheville’s shorter distance belied its difficulty. Saturday’s course was just shy of 100 miles with 9,600 feet of climbing. The route was shortened by four miles and 400 feet from its original version due to flooding in the region.
“The course was relentless, always twisting and turning,” Boswell told VeloNews. “There were less big names here which actually made the race harder. People weren’t watching each other, everyone was just rolling hard all day. So hats off to everyone in that front group, I was like, ‘jeez, there was never a moment where we backed off and rode easy.'”
The front group included other podium finishers Adam Roberge, Brennan Wertz, Kerry Werner, and Russell Finsterwald, as well as Dylan Johnson and Jeremiah Bishop. Although the elite group managed to stick together for nearly the entirety of the race, after 60 miles some of the dirt-specialists in the mixed-discipline group attempted to make a move.
Finsterwald, who finished fourth, said that the mountain bikers tried to shed Boswell on the Pinnacle Mountain descent.
“A few of us mountain bikers were putting a lot of pressure on that Pinnacle section to try and get a gap,” he said. “I knew we probably had to have a minute, minute and a half on Boswell, but he hung tough and beat us up on the next climb.”
Saturday’s course had an approximate split of 35 percent gravel roads and 65 percent tarmac. Although Boswell regained the group after he was dropped on the Pinnacle descent, he dropped a chain around mile 84 and again had to chase back.
“I honestly thought I would never catch them again,” he said.
But the former World Tour pro was in his element on the final 9-percent grade Jeter Mountain climb.
“On that last climb up Jeter I was doing 400 watts and when he came by me it was like I was standing still,” said Western North Carolina native Dylan Johnson who finished sixth.
Boswell would ultimately come across the line in 4:43:04, well ahead of his predicted five hour finish. Roberge and Wertz followed in 4:44, separated by a four-second sprint.
BWR Asheville results (provisional)
- Ian Boswell (Wahoo), 4:43:04
- Adam Roberge (Scuderia Pinarello), 4:44:37
- Brennan Wertz (Mike’s Bikes), 4:44:41
- Kerry Werner (Kona-Maxxis Pro Team), 4:46:07
- Russell Finsterwald (Clif Pro Team), 4:46:07
- Dylan Johnson
- Jeremiah Bishop
- Conor Schunk
- Will Hardin
- Ben Wright
Full results can be found here.