Ian Boswell’s Tour de L’Avenir race report: Stages 1 & 2
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 USA teammate Taylor Phinney won the prologue time trial and wore the yellow jersey into stage one. He sent Cycling Action this report.
By Ian Boswell
Stage 1: The Mini Tour
Monday, Sept. 6: The Tour de L’Avenir is directly translated as the race of the future; it truly is a mini Tour de France. Everything from the race organizers, roads, hotels, race numbers, rules, etc, are all the exact same as the Tour. However, this is still a U23 race, so I expected stage one to be like every other European U23 race; fast, dangerous and uncontrolled from start to finish. My expectation was wrong. Stage one played out just like a tour stage: a break went and the yellow jersey team rode the front to keep the gap manageable until the sprinter teams took over at the end.
If you read my prologue report you would know that we (USA) were that yellow jersey team and it was Ben King, Alex Howes and myself riding the front. We let the gap grow to 2’30”, which made the gap too big for any eager riders to attempt to bridge across. It was straight forward from there. The three of us rode the next 120 km at the front, and I loved it. Two kilometers would pass and we would pull off, there was not much talking other than the occasional joke, just three young men riding at the front of the tour of the future. My work ended with 20km to go when Taylor Phinney told me my day was done, so I drifted to the back of the pack and began to recover for stage two. Alex was next to join me at the back and with 10km to go we dropped off the back shifted to our small chain rings and rode easy to the finish line. Taylor finished 5th in the sprint but more importantly kept the yellow jersey, and our work was rewarded.
Stage 2: When it rains it pours!
Tuesday, Sept. 7: It was a wet, gray and windy day that only got worse as it went on. The stage started in the rain, which continued to fall the entire day, and once a group of three safely got off the front it was back to the front for King, Howes and I. The three of us took turns again at the front keeping the gap at 2’30”. With Taylor still in yellow and a flat finish coming up, we were again going for a stage win, and with 25 km to go everything had gone to plan.
I had just dropped back to the team car to drop off rain jackets when I saw Andrew Talansky, our overall contender, falling back through the pack with his hand in the air. Already near the back I raised my hand so the race director could see that USA was having a problem and radio to our team car to get ready for a mechanical. Once at the back I saw that Andrew had broken a spoke, we talked about me giving him my wheel but a glance back revealed that our car was just behind. A standard wheel change took longer than normal, and as I drifted back through the cars I knew a long chase was in store. After several minutes, Andrew was behind and our pursuit ensued. It wasn’t long before I had the help of King and Howes, but by now we were on a climb and the race was exploding.
Andrew quickly left Ben and me behind knowing that the race was unfolding up the road. With him gone, Ben’s and my own job for the day was done. The descent following the next climb was a nightmare, Ben and I were riding with caution and saw riders off the road and in the ditch around every turn. It wasn’t until the bottom that we saw the crash that broke our spirits; Phinney and his yellow jersey were on the ground. We stopped to give a helping hand but the ambulance and team car were already there. With crushed emotions we clipped back into our peddles and rode through the rain for the last 15km to the finish.
When we arrived at the team car the mood was low, Andrew had never made contact with the front group and the yellow jersey we had worked so hard to defend was still out on course some nineteen minutes behind. Taylor did the team and the race a great honor and rode to the finish, which meant a lot to me. With such a horrific day for our team over with, I was once again reminded that cycling truly is the world’s toughest sport. There are so many variables, and nothing is ever a given. We gave all we had and experienced an off day with lady luck. But the race will go on, and tomorrow we will be out there again fighting for a chance at glory.
Chasing Levi all in a day’s work for Bend’s Ian Boswell, By Pat Malach, Oregon Cycling Action, Aug. 20, 2010