Boswell looking for opportunities in California

Team Sky rider Ian Boswell is hoping his third trip to the Tour of California will provide an opportunity to show off the development he’s undergone over the past three years with the British WorldTour outfit.

Boswell, 24, signed a three-year deal with Sky beginning in 2013, and since then he has immersed himself in European bike racing and culture. Boswell just moved into a new, bigger apartment in Nice, France, and he hopes to move into a bigger role with Team Sky as well.

“This year being my third year, things have really just started to click being a professional, just living and executing my life as a professional cyclist, but also finding a nice balance within that lifestyle,” Boswell said last week from his home in France.

“It’s a possibility that I’m doing this for the next 10-15 years of my life and making it something that’s sustainable and enjoyable,” Bowell said. “I think all the guys here in Nice, we’re just making sure that we’re having fun while doing this, and because we’re having fun we’re being more productive as well.”

Boswell has already put in 29 race days so far this year, most recently taking the line at the Tour de Yorkshire in Britain, where he was part of the overall win by Sky's Lars Petter Nordhaug.

He started his season at the three-race Mallorca Challenge in Spain, finishing ninth during the Trofeo Andratx-Mirador d'Es Colomer on the second day. He went to the Dubai Tour next for his first stage race of the year, followed by Volta a Algarve in support of Geraint Thomas’ overall win.

Boswell traveled to Asia at the beginning of March for the eight-day Tour de Langkawi, where he finished 10th overall, then it was back to Europe for Coppi e Bartali. He took part in another of Richie Porte's winning efforts at Giro del Trentino last month, and he finished it off at the new three-day Yorkshire race.

The two top 10 finishes so far this year have been a highlight for Boswell, but he says his growing role within the team has been the real indicator of the experience he’s gained with Sky.

“It’s gone from, ‘OK, you’re the first guy to ride. OK, now you’re riding second. Now we’re going to save you for the climbs later on in the race.’ So maybe from a spectator’s point of view I’m not attending these races for the win, but I’ve seen big growth in the roles that I’m given within the team.”

Team Sky doesn’t have 2014 California winner Bradley Wiggins this year, but the team does have on its California roster Sergio Henao, who was second this year at Pais Vasco and finished seventh at both Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Peter Kennaugh, who won the individual time trial recently at Tour de Romandie, will also compete with Sky this week.

“I think we have a pretty good mix of sprinters and GC guys, which I think for a race like California is perfect, especially with the course this year,” Boswell said. “Last year we had the time trial on stage 2 and Diablo on stage 3, and we had Wiggins, so it was like, ‘OK, well, he’s gonna win the time trial, and then he’ll be there on Diablo, so we needed a team to ride the front.”

With the GC likely shaking out much later in the race - at the Big Bear time trial on stage 6 and the climb to Mt. Baldy on stage 7 - Boswell is not as likely to be tied down to team duty to the extent that he was last year.

“There could definitely be some opportunity within there, and we’ll definitely look for a bit more of a free role on some stages,” he said. “I’d like to be one of those guys, whether it’s riding for myself or being a key player on that Mt. Baldy stage, being one of the last mountain helpers for the GC guy maybe.

“Baldy is pretty much identical to the one we did in 2012, so I’m really looking forward to going back, and I hope to be a bit more of an animator of the race this time.”

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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.