There aren’t many American professional cyclists riding in Europe. In fact, out of the top 100 only two are from the US — Tejay van Garderen and Brent Bookwalter — both of whom ride for BMC. But 25-year-old Oregon-native, Ian Boswell, the only American on Team Sky, may be poised to change that. In the past few months, a number of cycling publications have touted him as a rising star, something that Team Sky’s top cyclist, Chris Froome, has reiterated.
Boswell, who grew up in the outdoors — fishing, camping and hunting with his brother — started cycling at a young age and rose through the pro ranks quickly, riding for Bissell in 2010 before moving to Trek-Livestrong and now Team Sky, which is widely regarded as the best cycling team in the world. He also has a number of top finishes under his belt, including two first place spots at the Nevada City Classic, plus a number of team wins with Team Sky, the most recent of which came at Paris-Nice, where Geraint Thomas took first place.
Boswell’s specialty is climbing, where he offers support to riders like Froome, Mikel Landa and Thomas, putting them in the position to take the finish line when it comes to the sprint. This season, Boswell hopes to offer more than just support in Italy’s Giro d’Italia where, if the opportunity presents itself, his eyes are on a solo stage win. In preparing for the Giro and the rest of the season this winter, Boswell and his teammates trained in Mallorca, Spain, on the winding coastal roads, where we first met Boswell and spent some time with Team Sky. We interviewed him after the Paris-Nice win, an exciting race that came down to a margin of only five seconds, and a stage being canceled due to large accumulations of snow.
Q: It must have felt great for Team Sky to win on your home turf this past weekend.
Ian Boswell (IB): It was a really close race in the end. We win so regularly and we win so many big races frequently that sometimes we forget what we’re doing. We finished Paris-Nice and then — boom — we are thinking about Catalunya with [Chris] Froome. [Alberto] Contador is going to be there again and I think Tejay [van Garderen] and [Alejandro] Valverde and Richie Porte. So it is instantly on to the next race.
There is always another goal and there are always more objectives. It turns out that G [Geraint Thomas] won the race by five seconds, and there was a stage when there was a time gap involved in the sprint and he was at the front because we put him there. So it really just makes you realize what we do and the fighting that we do every day — it pays off in the end. The first time I did Paris-Nice with Richie Porte in 2013 we won as well. So at some point in my career I’m sure I’ll look back on being on a team that won Paris-Nice two times. Thomas texted me the other day and just said, “Hey man, thanks for your help all weekend. Just soak it in and enjoy it because it’s a huge accomplishment. You just won one of the biggest and proudest bike races in the world and it’s something really special.”
Q: How long does it take you to recover after a stage race like that?
IB: It’s nice how quick you recover. Finish Sunday, did an hour and a half yesterday, three hours today. And then tomorrow, depending on the weather, I’ll try to get another couple of hours in and then race again on Sunday. So full-on back in the season.
Q: What do you miss most about the US living in Nice? Can you get a good cheeseburger in France?
IB: One of the biggest things, culinarily, would be Mexican food. It’s really hard to find spicy Mexican food or just good tortillas. Once in a while we’ll cook up fajitas on the barbecue and get the guys together and do some guacamole and nachos. But I think the biggest thing is just the convenience of living in the US. In the US you can find an organic tomato at two in the morning if you want to. Whereas in Europe, I just went to try to get a haircut, and for some reason all of the haircut places were closed. It’s a different system and it takes some time to get used to.