Cyclingnews will be introducing some of the fresh faces in the WorldTour peloton for 2013 in a series of articles over the next month. American Ian Boswelljoins Team Sky in 2013 following two seasons with the Bontrager-Livestrong development team. Boswell also briefly rode as a stagiere with the Argos-Shimano team at the end of the season. In 2012 Boswell placed second in the espoirs Liege-Bastogne-Liege and climbed impressively with the WorldTour riders at the Tour of Utah, where he placed fifth overall. He signed a three-year deal with Team Sky at the end of the season.
Cyclingnews: How did your contract with Team Sky come about?
Ian Boswell: I had been in negotiation with a few teams prior to the Tour of Utah. I had been working with an agent, Michael Rutherford, and post Tour of Utah I got a lot of interest from several teams, Sky being one of them. I was talking with Bobby Julich at the time. I kept contact with all the teams, just kind of weighing my options. After Utah I really wanted to focus on Tour de l'avenir, which I had a good ride in as well, and that kind of sealed the deal with Sky. At the time I was actually stagiering with Argos-Shimano, which was a great experience with a fantastic team. It was one of the teams I considered joining, but once the contract from Sky came it was a clear choice to go there. So I guess just through communicating with Bobby and kind of getting my name out there for them to follow my results and power files and what not, I was selected and went with Team Sky.
CN: Which races best showed your ability to ride at the WorldTour level?
IB: Prior to Tour of Utah, I think it was my ride at Leige-Bastogne-Liege. [Bontrager Team Director Axel Merckx] said that ride was capable of getting a WorldTour contract, but what I needed to show after that was that I could do it again and it wasn't just a one-off thing. Then I think my performance at Tour of Utah and Tour de l'avenir. Those were back to back, and being later in the season showed that I had consistency throughout the year. And they showed that I could ride with WorldTour riders, since there were WorldTour riders at Tour of Utah.
CN: How did you get started racing bikes?
IB: I began racing road bikes at the Cascade Cycling Classic. My dad was a former professional triathlete in the '80s, and so cycling has kind of always been in the family. I got my mother's rode bike and started racing. Growing up in Bend, Oregon, was an easy town to get involved with cycling, with people such as Steve Larsen, Paul Willerton and Bart Bowen there to support me. So I just started riding my bike more and kept progressing.
CN: Did you compete in any other sports before taking up cycling full time?
IB: I played pretty much every sport, coming from an active family. My most successful sport other than cycling was probably basketball, where I played two years in high school before I went to Europe for a year on a youth exchange. I was a pretty decent basketball player just because I was tall, and back then I was a bit more muscular than I am today. I still love playing basketball.
CN: Who was your sporting hero growing up?
IB: Back then I was really into basketball, and I would probably say Larry Bird. I just liked his style and everything – his mustache, his cool, long '80s hair, his mullet. And he was just a good guy in general. He came from a small town and he always kept that close to home and the people who helped him out, his mother and everything. It was inspiring to me to know these great stars can also be good people.
CN: Which WorldTour race do you most want to compete in?
IB: My previous experiences with doing Liege-Bastogne-Liege, having already raced on that course, makes it a race that I want to do on the WorldTour level. It looks like this year I'll get a start in that race, which is maybe as surreal as joining Team Sky. You know, it's kind of this progression, you have all these dreams, and then to be on the team that you want to be on and race the races you want to race is pretty incredible.
CN: What was your reaction to the USADA/US Postal case? Does it make you concerned for what you might find at the WorldTour or does it give you hope?
IB: I think at first it was a bit stunning to the degree at which everything came out and all these things that had been speculated about but no one really knew for sure. I think now that it has come out it does give us hope as the next generation of young cyclists coming forward. Being on Team Sky I know there are always going to be critics in the sport, which is disappointing. But what I see from Team Sky is the sport is moving forward and it is clean. I believe Bradley [Wiggins] won [the 2012 Tour de France] clean. If Bradly Wiggins were to come out that he was doping at the Tour de France, I think that would draw the line. I think that would stop racing at the professional level because it would be one time too many. But I think the sport is in a good place now, and it's good to be on a team like Sky where anti-doping is a big part of the team and success clean is more important than just results.
CN: Have you spoken to other riders who've made the leap to the WorldTour or any other mentors who have provided advice?
IB: I've spoken with several of my friends, obviously Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp) being one from Portland. I also spent some time in California this year with Pete Stetina (Garmin-Sharp), who was super helpful just giving me advice. Those are the younger guys, but there are also the older guys. Bobby Julich was super helpful helping us get set up here in Nice. I also spent a lot of time riding with Levi Leipheimer this winter in Santa Rosa. Coming with his perspective of what he has been through, it was real positive to hear his view of how the sport has changed. It's just advice from these older guys who have been through it and done it and are now at the top of the sport talking about the mistakes that they made. To be able to give me that advice is really beneficial.
Now that it's come forward about the USADA thing, people are willing to talk about it, and people are being helpful, which I really appreciate because I don't want to go into a sport where there's this side that you don't see. I think it's all on the table now and everyone knows it's happened. The older generation are able to help us out and don't want us to go through what they went through, and I really appreciate that.
CN: Where will you be based – who will you be living with there? Are you prepared for the culture shock?
IB: I'm living in Nice with my girlfriend Annika. [Former Bontrager teammate and current Sky teammate] Joe Dombrowski is just around the corner, and a few other Sky riders are potentially moving here. I've already experienced the culture shock, just living in France and trying to get visas set up and what not. So I think now, in the last couple of days, we've really gotten settled in here and figured out the way. We'll encounter more things as the year goes on, but Sky has been supportive in realizing this is a big transition year for me, just coming to Europe and living on my own in another country. It is super beneficial and helpful to me – just as a human being – to get that support from the team.
CN: Do you have a special talent aside from cycling that people might not know about?
IB: I'm aspiring to learn to play guitar. I'd say I'm pretty poor, but who knows, maybe I'll have some spare time over here in France to start learning a few chords.