MILAN (VN) — Chris Froome looks at American Ian Boswell with new respect and understanding. Like Boswell, the 2013 Tour de France winner took several years to develop even if he had the power and ability.
Froome saw first-hand in the Critérium du Dauphiné stage race this week how much Boswell has blossomed since signing for team Sky at the beginning of 2013. The Oregon native stayed with his captain and teammates Pete Kennaugh and Nicolas Roche in the team time trial Tuesday and led him over the penultimate climb ahead of the Pra Loup finish Thursday.
His help is huge because the Dauphiné is the final tune-up race before Froome races the Tour de France in July. It also takes on new dimensions when one looks around to note the top-class field in the WorldTour race, riders like Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), along with today’s most successful American stage racers on the scene, Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin).
“I guess when you cross the threshold, they take notice,” Boswell told VeloNews while on the massage table following stage six.
“I’ve been progressing for three years steadily, but in a stage like Pra Loup on the penultimate climb or in the team time trial, those improvements are seen.
“This whole season – Mallorca, Langkawi, in Trentino helping Richie [Porte] – those were all good, but not in the WorldTour. Coming here helping the guys in the final prep race before the Tour … It’s good to see that those improvements in the other races are translated well in this race. I feel that I figured it all out, not one thing, but a combination of things. Knowing what to do, being there and making it happen.”
In a team stacked with talent like Sky, someone like Boswell tends to go unnoticed—even if he is tall and has red hair. With Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas in the classics, Richie Porte in the Giro d’Italia, or Froome readying for the Tour de France, helpers like Boswell tend to fly under the radar.
Instead of having one of his 29 men lost throughout the season, General Manager David Brailsford sat down with 24-year-old Boswell over the winter and planned. This is the same goal-oriented “Dave B” who created team Sky and worked with Wiggins to give Great Britain its first Tour winner. Thanks to his work with Sky and the British track team, he was knighted, so Boswell can call him Sir David.
The two spoke between meetings in Manchester and camps in Mallorca. They set out certain steps through 2015 that would not only make the team successful, but also make Boswell happy. They outlined small goals like setting records on climbs around Boswell’s base in Nice, France, or helping the team win a time trial – he came just a half-second short in the Giro del Trentino with Porte. The bigger goals were in races like the Tour de Langkawi (10th overall) and the Tour of California (seventh).
“Reaching the performance goals, training, recovering, preparing for a race and racing … That’s helped me to always have something to work for,” Boswell continued.
“Is the management taking note? I think so. We have the majority of the Tour team here, so it’s recognized. They gave me a three-year contract, now I feel I’m performing to the level that I expected, that they expected when they gave me the contract.”
He is not focused on it, but he believes that a new contract will follow from the progression that Sky is seeing. With such work alongside several Tour riders in the Dauphiné, one might think a Tour ride will follow as well.
“I think it’s pretty unlikely. I haven’t done a grand tour yet. These guys have done multiple grand tours already and are trying for the Tour team,” Boswell added.
“At the beginning of the year, one of my targets was the Vuelta a España. I’ll take a break after this and focus on the Vuelta.”
Spoken like a goal-oriented Sky rider: first the Dauphiné, then a break, and then a grand tour. So far, the season is going to plan for a blossoming Boswell.