Ian Boswell (Team Sky) made it to the final kilometre with the leaders on top of Mt. Baldy, on stage 5 of the Tour of California, but lost contact and rolled in five seconds behind to finish in fourth place.
Heading into Friday's time trial at Big Bear Lake, Boswell retains his third place spot on the GC podium, 19 seconds ahead of Baldy stage winner Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac)
Boswell spent the day in the field and was not surprised when LottoNL-Jumbo went to the front to drive up the pace and bring back the breakaway. Boswell compared it to Team Sky's Mt. Baldy ride at the 2015 Tour of California.
"We did the same thing in ‘15 once we got up on the ridge road," Boswell said. "We just rode steady, and at that point, no one is really going to get dropped or come back.
"It's just kind of like adding fatigue to everyone, for their GC rider, George [Bennett], it is just adding fatigue into everyone's legs so when he makes his move everyone is a bit more tired."
At the base of Mt. Baldy Boswell was unsure he would be able to hang on and decided to bide his time and wait for the climb and altitude to take their toll.
"Because it's my first time in this situation I have no idea how everyone else is feeling," Boswell said. "Like at the bottom Ben King was nailing it, then Lachlan was attacking, and I was like, ‘Geez, there are a lot of guys in this group, and I'm tired'.
"Then, sure enough, you get 4k up the road, and half the guys have blown up, and there's four of us left. And if you don't feel that good why are you attacking? But I guess you have to try."
Boswell did not think the pack was climbing particularly fast, joking that Phil Gaimon's Strava record was still intact. Boswell said the long day of racing, and first hot day of the week were likely factors in slowing the field on their way up the mountain.
The quartet repeatedly attacked each other, but Boswell rode steadily and rode back into contention after each acceleration. Boswell stayed within his limits and used his momentum to his advantage pacing himself in the final kilometres of the race.
"I know at Sky we get a lot of stick for thinking we are riding off our power meter, but power is irrelevant on this climb because you are at altitude, it's hot, it's the end of the stage but you kind of know what you are capable of," Boswell said.
Boswell decided to have a go with under 1km to go but realized too late the move would cost him.
"I thought if I get a gap I can take the turn wide and chop everyone up on the inside," Boswell said. "It was one switchback too far."
Looking ahead to Friday's time trial, Boswell would not speculate on his GC chances but did mention he had been riding his time trial bike recently. Boswell lost several seconds to Bennett, Majka and Talansky in the GC, and he chalked up his losses to the ever-improving quality and depth of the Tour of California.
"It definitely could have been worse," Boswell said at the top of Mt. Baldy. "This race has changed from years past, becoming a WorldTour race. And I don't know the full history of this climb, but I think it's probably the largest group coming into the last kilometre that maybe has ever been."