It was the end of 2012 when we last spoke to 23 year-old American Ian Boswell on the eve of his first get together with Team Sky.
We caught up with him again in January of this year to see how his professional debut year with double Tour winning squad SKY had gone.
Was it more – or less – savage than you expected, Ian?
“The World Tour was definitely a step up from what I was used to on a development team like Livestrong.
“It’s the depth of field, you ride an early season like the Challenge Mallorca or Tour of the Algarve and you think; “this isn’t so bad.”
“But then you go to Paris-Nice where there are 200 of the best riders in the world and every one of them with a specific job to do, you realise that it’s a different level, altogether.
“So you certainly have to work hard at your training – but also ensure you take the rest to recover from that training.”
Is SKY what you expected?
“It’s better; the resources are all there for you – coaches, physios, psychologists, mechanics, soigneurs.
“It takes a little while to get to understand the structure but you begin to realise that nothing is a problem – if you’re a young rider everyone is helpful towards you.
“Everyone is there to provide for the riders; they’re the core of the team.”
Which part of the season was best for you?
“Later in the year; I really started to enjoy things at the Tour of Norway in May, being part of Edvald Boasson Hagen’s team when he took the win was really satisfying.
“And at the Tour of Austria in July whilst I did nothing special, 15th overall is a low result for SKY, I was getting in the moves.
“I had no goals or expectations but I showed myself I can ride at that level.”
“Paris-Nice was by far the hardest; it was my third stage race and my first in the World Tour – it really rocked my world.
“It was like seven one day Classics back to back with a lot of stress in the peloton – there are 200 guys all fit and with jobs to do; and on top of that the weather was terrible.”
You did 47 race days in 2013…
“It would be around that, yes.
“After Paris-Nice I had a knee injury and didn’t finish the Criterium International.
“That was a lesson learned; maybe my early season programme was overly ambitious for a neo-pro?”
Your programme was pretty cosmo – Europe, Scandinavia, China, the USA.
“I enjoy seeing new places; I really liked Norway but by the Tour of Beijing I was tired – bit it’s good to have been there for future reference.”
What’s your take on the food concerns in China?
“The food was relatively diverse, provided by the team and they kept it simple.
“You think; “it won’t happen to me” but then you’re at sponsors’ dinners and it’s a little frightening to think that eating the wrong thing could wreck your career.
“But it’s a safe race on good roads, well promoted with good accommodation.”
How are you enjoying living in Nice?
“I love it here; I came back before the New Year.
“It’ll be much easier this year because I know the roads – the weather has been a bit wet but there are lots of guys to train with.
“Chris Froome and Philippe Gilbert are just along the road in Monaco and it’s not unusual to meet groups of 10/15 guys when you’re out.”
How’s the French coming along?
“Improving, I lived in Wallonia for a while and took French at school so my conversational skills are OK but I have to improve my reading and writing.”
Tell us a little about the ‘SKY science’ we hear so much about.
“The team is a leader in sports science and nutrition; and as far as equipment and clothing goes they’re always looking at new options with the likes of Pinarello and Rapha.
“And there are guys like Steve Peters the sports psychiatrist, the way his mind works is unique – I think that’s maybe an area of the sport which other teams under estimate.”
Bobby Julich was instrumental in bringing you to SKY, but now he’s gone.
“Yes, his move away from SKY was just the way that it goes sometimes – but we’re still in contact; he’s here in Nice with BMC.
“Shaun Stephens is the performance coach at SKY now and we’ve built a good personal and professional relationship.”
World Tour teams are all weight obsessive about their riders, how’s that side with you?
“My weight in 2013 was heavier than in previous seasons – down to injury and French patisseries!
“But I’ve been talking more and more with the team nutritionists and I’m noticing a big difference with my weight.
“It’s just down to applying common sense to your cooking and eating and bringing it down gradually.”
Beijing was your last race of the year?
“Yes, then I went home to Oregon for three weeks of no training – just riding my MTB and the occasional run on the road bike with my dad.
“But by the time you sort out visas and stuff it seems like the blink of an eye and you’re back at team training camp in December.
“We met in Mallorca in December then again in early January.”
“I don’t have any set personal goals that I want to win this or that.
“I just want to continue to improve; 2013 was a huge learning experience and I want to capitalise upon that for 2014 – I don’t want any ‘what ifs?’”
Are you happy with year one?
“I’m happy with what I learned but not happy that I didn’t meet the expectations I had for races.”
The biggest lesson of 2013?
“Consistency is the key.
“You have to wake up every day and address the job in hand, live the life of a professional athlete.
“Once you find that routine it becomes easier; you learn how to train well and you feel more comfortable within the team.”