Ben King’s Tour de L’Avenir stages 3 & 4 race report
Ian Boswell graduated from Bend’s Summit High School in 2009 and races with the USA Cycling U23 National Team and the Bissell Pro Cycling Team. (Boswell has signed with Trek-Livestrong for 2011). He is currently in France at the Tour de L’Avenir, where his teammate Andrew Talansky is fighting for the overall win. USA rider Taylor Phinney won the prologue and started stage 1 in yellow but lost the jersey after a bad crash. After several tough stages in a row, Boswell joked that he was too tired to open his computer and instead sent Cycling Action these reports by teammate and U23 national champ Ben King.
Teammates and friends make all the suffering worthwhile
By Ben King
Stage 3: 157 km
Wednesday, Sept. 8
Last week we previewed the last 50 km of this stage, including the two 12 km climbs. To achieve redemption we had to put a stamp on this decisive stage. We did. We tossed a man into the British rotation leading the field and sharing the dirty work so that our team could rest unhindered behind Alex Dowsett in his yellow jersey. Again Boz, Alex Howes, and I took turns pace making. Approaching the first long climb, our team took full control with Phinney as the engine on the flats. Chris Butler and Andrew Talansky started the climb in perfect position. Our work done, the rest of us rode as easy as is possible up the next 30 km of mountains. When we got to the finish Talansky had a wild look in his eyes, “Third, I got third. We can still win this race, guys.” What satisfaction that brought us. If he had not flatted yesterday, Talansky would have put us back in yellow. As it is, we’re within striking distance without the responsibility of defending.
Stage 4: 180 km
Thursday, Sept. 9
The novelty of this lifestyle is wearing off. A road in Europe feels the same as a road in my hometown. Team buses, race banners, and the competitors’ vein-shredded calves no longer jolt my nerves. New hotels, new teams, new food, courses, languages, tactics; new is normal. This sport is hard and often miserable. Four hours in the rain, legs screaming, heart race 170 for the fourth day in a row. But you won’t stop. Even quitting is hard. To be dropped is like taking a knockout punch in the face. I don’t think we do it for the love of the sport. We do it for people. When teammates become friends you will ride yourself into oblivion for them. You suffer each day because “good job” from your director sounds best when you know you’ve earned it.
Today’s stage brought on this introspection. My fuel light came on early. Other riders had tunnel vision like me, but after two draining hours of constant hills, I found a purpose in the race. A gap opened ahead of Talansky on a windy false flat. I closed it for him then exploded slipping out the back of the front group. But Butler never passed me. I found him in a group off the back with Boz. Butler had to stay in the front group with Talansky. Go time. “Butler, get on my wheel!” Another cross-eyed effort closed the gap. Boz, Butler, and I were the last three to make the 40-man front group. A tweet from @cbutler88 (Chris Butler) after the race completed my day. “A very draining stage 3 of L’Avenir. @benking89 saved my butt in a crucial moment!” That’s what it’s all about. That’s why I’m here.
Ian Boswell’s Tour de L’Avenir race report: Stages 1 & 2, By Ian Boswell, Oregon Cycling Action, Sept. 10.