While Romain Bardet and Tejay van Garderen were the main protagonists on stage 5 of the Criterium du Dauphine there were several minor cameo performances that caught the eye, and none more so than Team Sky's Ian Boswell.
The third-year American professional set the pace on the Col d'Allos and shred the peloton down to less than two-dozen riders by the time they reached the summit. Although Bardet escaped and won the stage with a fine solo performance, Boswell's duties on the Col d'Allos and then on the lower slopes up to Pra Loup were integral in Chris Froome's eventual third place finish.
Bauke Mollema, Rohan Dennis, Thomas Voeckler and host of more established riders were dropped as a result of Boswell's pace setting and after two years of hard graft Boswell is starting to flourish at WorldTour level.
"After my ride in the Tour of California [ed. he finished seventh overall] some opportunities have opened up. I was supposed to be doing Suisse but because of my fitness I was chosen to come here," he told Cyclingnews after the stage.
"It's been nice to come back to WorldTour because outside of the Tour of Beijing in the last two years this is the first WorldTour stage race that I've done since Paris-Nice as a neo-pro. I was in well over my head then and I remember that after two stages there I was on my hands and knees. So to come back here as a third year pro and be part of the race is great because it shows progression."
Boswell joined Team Sky on a three-year deal, a rather unusual move considering that most first-year professionals are handed two-year contracts to begin with. Had Boswell signed for two years he may not have remained at the squad but he has established himself as a solid domestique in recent months and he puts that down to an amalgamation of several different factors. It's not, as he says, down to the mere fact that he is out of contract at the end of the season.
"I think it's easy to say 'it's contract time so lets take it more seriously but I think it's more of things coming together, figuring out racing a bit more, positioning, being set up in Europe, getting on well with the team and not feeling pressured. It's maturity and I'm starting to find my way in the sport."
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