“There’s plenty more racing to go and every day is decisive.” said Ben Jacques-Maynes of the BISSELL Pro Cycling Team.
Three more days of racing – a time trial, a tough criterium and the Queen Stage – at the Larry H Miller Tour of Utah, to defend the blue Powerade/vitaminwater Best Young Rider jersey on Ian Boswell‘s shoulders.
“It pretty much all comes down to the time trial today.” said Boswell on Friday morning, hours before the time trial. “I’ll hopefully have some good insights form guys who go earlier on in the day, Jeremy and Ben. Hopefully, those guys can give me some pointers on the course and try to ride that as well as I can. Get through the crit and yeah, the final stage up Snowbird, it just comes down to climbing again. If have the jersey, I have to defend it, if I don’t then I have to get some time.”
It wasn’t a specific goal to get the jersey coming into the race but Boswell admits that he thought about it.
Getting the jersey. Sitting at a bit over one minute at the start of stage 2, the 19-year old Boswell made the selection when the field splintered as the roads pitched up on the tough Mt Nebo climb. Prior to that, Boswell sat protected by his team sheltered from the crosswinds and attacks. Confident in his climbing abilities, his team put riders in the rotation to bring back the break, to launch him to do his thing on the climb.
“Our team did a really good job of bringing back the break at the bottom, I was keeping myself at the front and from there, it just started slowly separating.” said Boswell after the stage.
Boswell found himself with top climbers that included Levi Leipheimer (Mellow Johnny’s), Francisco Mancebo (Canyon Bicycles), Darren Lill and Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia). He watched Leipheimer ride away and battled for second place with defending champion Mancebo.
He took his cues from Mancebo and then attacked on the final pitch. “I just hung with Mancebo knowing that he was an experienced rider and that he would ride steady. After we hit the top, I tried to pick up the pace because it slowed down a little but Mancebo came around me in the end but he deserved it.”
Finishing third on the stage, Boswell moved to fourth on GC, in a virtual tie with Lill at 1:16 down from leader Leipheimer. And it put him in the lead of the Best Young Rider classification, with 1:04 on Tim Roe (Trek-LIVESTRONG), 1:35 on Lachlan Morton and 1:38 on Robbie Squire, both with Holowesko Partners. All three have been riding strongly in the race so far. Boswell has a fight on his hands.
Defending the jersey. The defense starts with the 9.2-mile (14.8 km) Miller Motorsports Park Time Trial.
“We’re hoping that Ian is going to be able to pull out a really good TT on a flat course, I think we’re going to definitely re-evaluate after that. “ said Jacques-Maynes, on Thursday while resting after a long hard day in the saddle. Boswell will be looking to teammates including Jacques-Maynes and Jeremy Vennell on tips to handle the
Then, there’s the Park City Criterium. A 75-minute crit sounds easy right? Not so fast, this one is not easy by any means. “I wouldn’t even call it a criterium, it’s just going to be a brutal bike race. It’s going to be one of those ones where you’re maybe hoping and praying for a flat tire because you sit out a lap.” chuckled Jacques-Maynes. “The course profile looks identical to Nevada City but then you put 7000 feet of elevation on that, it’s going to be absolutely brutal. There’s not going to be many guys left, especially if it starts fast, people are going to get gassed pretty quick, that race is going to come apart.”
“It’s definitely a hard course. I don’t think it’s as steep and punchy [as Nevada City], the drag is long and straight but it’s still uphill.” smiled Boswell. He and some of his teammates reconned the course last week while staying in Park City to get acclimated to the altitude.
The team has multiple scenarios to play out in the stage. “We’re going to have to see how that plays out, we’re going to have plan for that to try to keep Ian up front or maybe even gain some position. We’re going to see what we can do to do that. With me or Jeremy, it could be a good opportunity for a stage win. If we can make the initial selection and the GC guys are watching themselves, that could give us a good opportunity to get away, they’ll let us go, that might work out well for us as well.” explained Jacques-Maynes.
“Sunday is just absolutely brutal.” The Queen Stage with 11,000 feet (3,352.8 m) of climbing to finish at the top of Snowbird.
“Ian knows these climbs, he was out here training all week so he should be confident and we’re confident in him.” commented Jacques-Maynes. “It’s a matter of how we’re going to separate the GC guys from him, whether it’s going to be him with a solo effort on the climb, every man for himself, it may have to be like that.”
Once again, Jacques-Maynes mused on two scenarios that could come into play. The first one is the long-range plan like the one they did last year on the same stage. BISSELL put three riders in the early break, Vennell, Jacques-Maynes and Burke Swindlehurst in order to lauch Swindlehurst on the final climb. It almost worked except that Alex Howes (Holowesko Partners) attacked first to solo to the win. Swindlehurst mounted a chase but finished second.
“I doubt that’s going to fly really well with the other teams, we may just have to play it by ear.” said Jacques-Maynes about scenario number one.
The other scenario depends on the time gaps coming into the stage. “If Ian has a bad time trial, or gets time-gapped in the criterium, he could move down to seventh or eighth, they could let him go. If we have a move with teammates, we take him over the top of the first two climbs and then unleash him at the bottom of the final climb. “ said Jacques-Maynes who added with a laugh. “That seems like a long time from now.”
One of eight. “We’ll be doing as much as we can, we have a lot strong guys and a lot of tools to help us do that.” said Jacques-Maynes who has been feeling the impact of altitude. “Everyone plays a part and everyone gets to do their part. ” Along with Jacques-Maynes and Vennell, Boswell will have the support of his teammates, Rob Britton, Peter Latham, Paul Mach, Frank Pipp and Paddy Bevin, for the battle.
Jacques-Maynes concluded. “The team is confident in our ability to race and now it’s a lot clearer to know what we have to do to win. We have to see how it plays out, it’s going to be a good fight no matter what, we’re going against strong teams, we’re going up against some really strong climbers. Ian has proven himself to be on that same level, we’re not going to be afraid to hit that reset button and make sure that he has a fighting chance going up Snowbird.”