Ian Boswell at the Giro d’Italia
Team Sky rider Ian Boswell is providing Rapha with dispatches from the frontline of racing at the Giro d’Italia. The fourth diary entry sees the American reflect on the sport’s cruel nature, following leader Mikel Landa’s departure; a situation which leaves him free of his domestique duties and able to hunt for stage wins of his own:
A lot has happened since my last entry. Mikel Landa pulled out, which was a huge disappointment, for him and us all. Everything was just starting to line up and it shows the fragility of the sport – he could so easily have won that stage and been in the pink jersey.
His withdrawal also shows how on edge we are with our health and the expectations we place on our bodies. That Tuesday morning I was sat at the back of the bus, fully ‘starfish’, with my shirt off and in my pants, sweating because I was pretty hot. Landa got on and took a nap, only waking up to ask to turn the A.C. off and for a jacket to cover him. Nobody said anything but I looked over at Phil and gave him an ‘oh boy, this isn’t good’ look.
The stage started and there was a climb about 15km in. It came through the radio straight away that Landa was out the back. The conversation in my ear went into Spanish and I could tell that they were encouraging him but that it wasn’t looking good.
At the same time, Astana started riding hard on the front. They probably wouldn’t admit it was because Landa was off the back, but once that happened it was pretty evident that he was going to be dropped. Christian Knees actually went up to Astana and told them ‘hey, you guys need to stop riding, Landa’s not coming back, but more importantly you’re going to take two of our team mates out of the race.’ David Lopez and Mikel Nieve were back with Landa, six minutes down, only 25km into the race. It was a long day, so Astana stopped riding.
Since Tuesday, our goal has been about getting in the breakaways. If something goes to the line and the stage is won, we have to at least have given ourselves a shot. You won’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. Mikel Nieve took a pretty spectacular win on Friday, which really raised the morale of the team and encouraged us to keep hunting.
I’ve been trying very hard, although all my attempts have come to no avail. It’s not just a case of saying ‘okay, I’m going to get in the breakaway’, it takes a lot of experience and a lot of luck. You have to have good legs, the guys in the break have to be right, and the stage has to suit you too. I think there’s a good few stages for me to try this week, and when people start to get tired, I hope the volume of training I’ve done this year will see me well.
I had a pretty good ride in the mountain time trial this Sunday [Stage 15] – I even made it into the leader’s hot seat for a hot sec! It wasn’t really planned, I did a very blasé, relaxed warm up, and for the first couple of kilometres I didn’t feel super but once we got to the climb I just thought I’ll pace it and see.
There was a picture of my face from the hot seat when [eventual winner, Alexander] Foliforov’s time came in. I was pretty shocked, I mean, I knew my time was going to be bettered by the GC guys, but that was impressive. Regardless, my result [15th] was a good confidence booster going into the last week knowing that I’ve got a good level of fitness and I’m up there climbing with some of the better guys in the race.
For me, confidence is extremely important. The mind is probably just as important as the legs, especially the further you get into the race. We’re here in the third week, and everyone is tired. I’m tired, I have a bit of a chest infection, but at least 50% of the peloton probably have bronchitis to some degree. If you can get your head around that, there’s still a lot to be gained. A stage win is massive, and to be here and have free range to go for one is something you don’t always have.
It’s crazy to think that I’m just doing my job but I’m at the Giro d’Italia racing against the best cyclists in the world. I got a text message from my Dad saying how proud he was of me and people from back home have been relaying their support to me throughout. My Dad said to make sure I enjoy this for what it is as one day I’ll look back and really remember it. It’s easy to get down and forget what I’m doing but this is something really special and unique. I’m still here to race though, I haven’t forgotten that.