Boswell hopes to be among Team Sky's roster for the Vuelta a España

'It’s becoming the hardest Grand Tour team to make all year,” says American rider

The Vuelta a España may hold less prestige than the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia but it is the hardest of the three Grand Tours to earn selection for, according to Team Sky's Ian Boswell.

Such is the nature of being part of one of cycling’s strongest team’s, the Sky rider can target the race all year, only for the bigger stars to jeopardise his spot on the roster with last-minute post-Tour de France whims.

Boswell lost his place last year after Chris Froome made an early exit from the Tour and there’s a danger of it happening again. Froome will soon make a call on his participation in the Vuelta, and Geraint Thomas, who was strong for so long in France, is also toying with the idea of a trip to Spain.

“It’s funny; every year people think the Vuelta is an easy team to make but it’s actually becoming the hardest Grand Tour team to make all year,” the American told Cyclingnews in the mountains at the Tour de Pologne.

“The Giro is usually pretty set, then the Tour team is a smaller group of guys, then the Vuelta is a mix of guys who haven’t done a Grand Tour and guys who want to do another one.”

Despite Sky’s plans for the Vuelta being disorganised at this late stage, and despite the level of competition for places, Boswell is feeling confident he’ll still be on the start line in Puerto Banús. After last year’s ambition of riding a debut Grand Tour failed to materialise, his determination to be there is palpable.

“It’s my third year on the team, I’ve progressed nicely this year, done well in the Dauphiné, again here, so I’m making steps and have worked pretty hard to make that team,” he said. “We don’t even know if Chris is coming or not, we haven’t heard anything, I think he’s supposed to decide sometime soon. Whether he goes or not I still want to be on that team.

“It’s really just another learning experience, I’ve started to handle the WorldTour race load. So then to do a three-week race would be good to get in. It’s looking pretty good, not definite yet, but hopefully with another good stage today I should be on the list,” he added ahead of the queen stage in Poland, where he indeed but in an important shift in helping set up Sergio Henao’s stage win.

Happy at Sky

Boswell’s contract runs out at the end of this year but he has not negotiated anything for next year yet – at Sky or elsewhere – preferring to focus on racing ahead of the Vuelta. In an interview with Cyclingnews towards the end of last year, the 24-year-old spoke of 2015 being a crucial year in establishing himself in the team’s plans for the future and ascertaining whether the British squad is in fact a good fit.

Even though it’s not 100 per cent certain he’ll be lining up at the Vuelta, Boswell has been pretty convinced over the past year that Sky is the place for him.

“I’m really glad I’ve been on the team for three years. It’s only been this year where things have started to click and I’ve found what I need to do in training, living my life in Europe, how to handle it to make it compatible with being a pro cyclist. Hopefully I can stay on this team for another couple of years,” he told Cyclingnews.

“There are always [other] possibilities but so far I’m really happy in this team. I really like the environment, the staff we work with, the group mentality we have. Especially doing the Dauphiné – that was something that kind of really sealed the deal for me with wanting to stay with this team, being part of a team where everyone’s working for a common goal.”

If Boswell expressed fears last year about the amount of new signings joining Sky for 2015, you’d forgive him for having full-on night terrors this time around. Sky have been linked with a string of names, and it’s a more high-profile list than last year’s, including world champion Michal Kwiatkowski and the third-placed rider at the Giro, Mikel Landa.

Whether those signings materialise or not, it doesn’t seem to bother Boswell, who has managed to reconcile his own position within the team, in spite of the possibility of a paucity of opportunities to pursue his own personal goals.

“You read the news and they say Kwiatkowski’s coming, Landa, Izagirre and it’s like ‘jeez they’re not just signing young riders’,” he joked.

“I guess for someone like me that pushes me to a higher level. You can look at it on one side and say ‘ah well, maybe it’s better to go somewhere else where you might have more opportunities’. But then again, it’s like ‘alright, if you’re making the Tour team, or a Grand Tour team with those riders then you’re kind of at the top of the game’. So it kind of pushes me to be better than I would be if I didn’t have that pressure, even just from within the team to compete for the spots.

“Does that always mean you have tons of opportunity? No, but I actually really enjoy working for someone like Chris, or Richie [Porte] in other races, when we’re going with a specific goal to win. You have a group of guys like that working well together it’s phenomenal, nothing beats it.”

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