Five-time track world champion Theo Bos (Belkin) made the move from the boards to the tarmac in 2009. With five full seasons on the road under his belt, the Dutch sprinter is getting hungry for his first Tour de France appearance.
After his track days Bos is used to being near the top of the sport and he has set his sights on La Grande Boucle. “I would find it really beautiful. This race is above everything,” he told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
“Whether it is realistic? I think so. I do not know. Whether or not it's about to happen this year, I think now I can handle it physically. I have done more mileage than ever this winter, while I have lost no explosiveness.”
Bos has never completed a grand tour - he abandoned both the 2010 Vuelta a España and 2012 Giro d'Italia, and had to pull out on the eve of the 2013 Vuelta when his asthma medication caused a dip in his cortisol levels.
The Dutch rider had a fine start to the year with four stage victories at the Tour de Langkawi. However his return to Europe hasn’t been quite as fruitful, with second at the Handzame Classic his best result this spring.
Bos is now in action at the Tour of Turkey. It started off well with third on the opening stage, but he ended up hitting the back of one of the race vehicles after crossing the line. Mark Cavendish has been dominating the sprint competition in Turkey, but Bos is happy with how he has matched up against the Manx Missile.
"I have been a bit better. In the last two stages, there have been opportunities to beat him,” he explained. "It gives us a huge kick when you drive a train alongside that of Omega Pharma-Quick Step in the final. We have also trained with this group. We are going better and better. As a result, the pressure is again increased, but the explosion will happen soon and it may lead to a victory.”
While Bos has taken plenty of victories on the road, he is still searching for that big one to mark him out from the rest. The Dutch rider is still confident that he can prove to his directeurs that he can mix it at the top. “I am ambitious and I want to perform at the highest level,” he said.
“On paper this may not be a super great race, but there are some big names riding. I am riding to win here, it would be really nice. Of course, I would also like to do grand tours. That is my ultimate goal, but I cannot make it so. I think it's important that I shape my own route with my victories, and from there I can see how it goes.”
The shelf life of a sprinter is often shorter than that of a grand tour rider, with speed diminishing with age. At 30, Bos is by no means old but he will have his work cut out against the likes of his own 22-year-old teammate Moreno Hofland. Bos has no intention of shying away from the battle and while his future lies in road racing, there is still a little piece of him that longs for the past.
“I still enjoy cycling. And there is still more to my development. I do know that I will finish my career on the track. Not at a high level, I think. I would still like to ride those keirin races in Japan. That is still my heart.”