Boswell wears KOM jersey in Italy
(Ian Boswell of Bend is currently racing the Valle d’Aosto, a UCI 2.2 race in Italy, with the USA Cycling U23 National Team. The race started Tuesday and ends Sunday, Aug. 28. Boswell sent Oregon Cycling Action this report from stage 1).
By Ian Boswell
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt
This is what my roommate Rob Squire read to me before the stage today. So with this in mind Rob and I went out to race our bikes with passion and panache. Soon after the start Rob and I both made a large break of 20+ riders. We gained time over the pack quickly and had five minutes before the first climb 25km into the race.
Motivated from Teddy’s quote, Rob told me he wanted to win the stage, and I told him I wanted to win the KOM jersey (King of the Mountains). As we neared the top of the first climb I went for the KOM sprint and took 3rd. After some amazing and scenic roads through the French Alps we hit the second climb, 90km from the finish. The break stopped working together, so I decided to mix things up. I went to the front and rode a harder pace and soon found myself off the front.
I first told myself I would ride to the top of the climb, get the KOM points and see what kind of gap I had. By the top I had over 1’30″ on the break, so I decided to ride and see if I could pick up the next KOM 20km from the summit of the 2nd climb. Not killing myself, I rode steady and hit the next climb with the same gap. I summitted the 3rd climb and now had 2 minutes over the break. At this point our team director came up to me and told me to continue but not burn all my fuel, so continued on and rode within myself.
By the time I reached the last climb 30km from the finish, my gap was still at 2 minutes, and Marcello told me to ride for the win. Riding off the front also helped Rob, who was in the group behind, as he did not have to work with the others who were chasing. I summitted the final climb 25km from the finish with 1’30″ over the chasing group, which was now down to just 10 riders. After a technical decent I put my head down and rode for the win. The last 25km was a mostly flat route with a hard 1km finishing climb that we had scouted out this morning. I gave it all I had and still had a 40 second gap over the chase group with 5km to go. At this point I thought I could win, all I had to do was make it up the final climb, which was over 15%.
With 2km to go I still had 20″ over the chase. As the climb approached I got goosebumps just thinking of the win, and kept the power driving on. I hit the 15% pitch and had pain in my legs like I have never experienced before, but with the finish line just 600 meters away I gave it all I had. The fans on the road where cheering, but all I could hear were my legs telling me to stop. With 500 meters to go I looked back and still didn’t see anyone, however my speed was starting to slow.
By the time I hit 300 meters from the finish I was probably going under 5km/h, it was at this point I was passed by the chasers. Too knackered to feel emotion, I looked up to see Rob and the others come by at a much higher speed. The last 200 meters were the longest of my life, and I then realized I did what I could and came up just 300 meters short. I have seen riders come up short a hundred times on TV, being caught in the final, but never has it happened to me. After crossing the line I had no regrets, I gave 100%, and that’s all I can do.
Rob finished 3rd on the stage, which is a great result. I won the KOM jersey and most aggressive rider for the day, however there is still a lot of climbing to be done before this race is over. Following the stage I gave a few interviews in my broken French trying to win the hearts of the French fans. Tomorrow is a huge day with three cat 1 climbs, so I will recover to my best and give the race what I have tomorrow.
Thanks for reading, Le Boz