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Ian Boswell is hoping for the unanswered attack; that he can simply roll away from the bunch without concern from those on guard duty at the front.
Team Sky’s American neo-pro is, perhaps, already too well-known for this to be likely any time soon. A second-place finish at last year’s U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege and fifth overall at Tour de l'Avenir have already revealed his range of all-around abilities. Expectations are running high for the native of Bend, Oregon, as he adjusts to life in the top professional ranks. So high, in fact, that with about 40km to go at this year’s Flèche-Wallonne, Boswell’s absence through injury was mentioned in Eurosport’s coverage as a potentially important factor in deciding the outcome of the race.
Rapha spoke with Ian about the early part of his season, his favorite pieces of, Rapha kit and his rehabilitation from knee injury and life as a cowboy in Nice, France.
The knee injury has meant an enforced break from racing and training. Tell us what's different about your day-to-day routine as you recover.
I am experiencing some bad sensations with my knee that have kept me from training the past two weeks. You might think I would have loads of free time but on the contrary. There’s stretching, icing, foam rolling, stability work and, of course, napping, I have been passing the days rather quickly as I wait to begin training again. I have also been picking some guitar in the hope of learning some Townes Van Zandt chords – it’s best I play in private for now.
Rapha recently launched a limited run of personalized Team Sky jerseys. It was Team Sky, in fact, who were the first to personalize individual rider's uniforms with names and country flags in 2009. Why do you believe it took so long for professional cycling to do this versus other sports teams?
Cycling is a sport teeming with history and tradition. Even with the modern sports science we have today, many teams and riders still abide by the ways of old. This old school way can still be seen in many aspects of the sport, so while other sports added names to their uniforms, cycling left kits open for sponsors. Team Sky is making it a sport of the 21st century, while still respecting the sport’s history.
What does it feel like to have your name on the jersey of the number one team in the world?
Having my name on my jersey is special. I am a proud member of Team Sky and to have a kit that is distinctly my own is an honor. Carrying your family name and national flag on your jersey gives a rider a personal identity and something to be proud of.
When you're in the thick of things on the road, does it help to be able to easily identify who's who among team-mates?
Personalized jerseys can be very helpful out on the road. Most riders have a distinct riding style, which makes them easy to pick out but sometimes a quick glance can ensure you are still seeing straight. I know it often helps the commentators and other riders identify who you are, too. I will try and use it to my advantage when I attack; I hope the other riders see “Boswell” on my jersey and think, “Oh, he’s that young American kid, let him go, he’s not a threat”.
Tell us about early-season camp. What was it like to have the Rapha crew arrive with suitcases laden with new Rapha kit?
Come January, all of my 2012 kit had seen its share of miles and was pretty much washed out. Receiving new kit is always a thrill only to be topped by receiving loads of the best kit out there, Rapha. Top of the line kit is like a nice car, its goes faster and you know you look good doing it.
Did the new kit meet your expectations?
Rapha continually exceeds my expectations; I have never had such a professional and well-fitting kit. You really don’t know how much superior a kit can be until you try the best.
What's your favorite Rapha piece so far?
My hands-down favorite piece of clothing is the Transfer Jacket. They are amazingly warm and comfortable and true classic articles of cycling clothing. It has also been a cold winter here in Europe so I have spent a lot of time zipped up.
You’ve made a sharp rise from the US domestic racing scene to the premier international scene. What are the races you most look forward to?
At the Ardennes Classics I was certainly excited about taking part but unfortunately I only came to see the team physiotherapist, to address my current knee issue rather than race. There is always next year and many more races this year that I hope to be ready for.
What US races will you miss?
Two races that I will miss doing this year are the Tour of Utah and the Cascade Cycling Classic. The CCC is my hometown stage race. In the past, my teams have stayed at my house and let me drag them around Bend, showing them how and where I live. We would often float the river, fish, shoot guns, camp and eat lots of burritos in the days leading up to and following the race.
You've moved into a new apartment in Nice. How long will it take you to settle in, training routes, shopping, restaurants etc.?
I have been in Nice since the beginning of December and it is just starting to feel like home. I now know most of the good routes (so many beautiful climbs in Nice) have figured out the better restaurants and connected with a good group of friends in the area to ride with and enjoy activities off the bike.
What are the comparisons between Nice and Bend?
Bend is a small west coast/western (kind of cowboy) town, while Nice is much more like Southern California. The French Riviera is properly posh and high fashion – not my thing - but just north of Nice, the Maritime Alps provide endless quiet mountain roads to get lost and find that inner cowboy.
The Rapha Women's 100 takes place on 7th July. You mentioned your girlfriend is working towards the big event.
Cycle Cote d’Azur in Nice, where she works, is offering a 100km ride on 7th July. The goal of Rapha and Cycle Cote d’Azur is to get more women out riding. The Rapha Women’s 100 is just what the sport needs to achieve that. It offers women the chance to connect with other women who have the same interest in cycling.
Have you two picked the ride you'll take on 7th July?
Not yet. Cycle Cote d’Azur is planning a route but it is hard to go wrong riding in Nice.
Thanks, Ian, all the best with your recovery and we look forward to seeing you back in the peloton soon.
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