American Ian Boswell transitions this month into the professional ranks with Sky. At a training camp in Spain, he rides in Bontrager-Livestrong's black colors, but with Sky's blue team issue bike and helmet, indicating the coming change.
The "guys at the top" include Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. Wiggins and Froome finished first and second in the 2012 Tour de France, respectively, and Thomas is an Olympic gold medalist. And there are all the others, too, including Boswell's best mate in his new adventure, compatriot Joe Dombrowski.
Boswell debuts as a professional with Sky after an impressive season with Bontrager and the U.S. national team. He helped Dombrowski win the amateur Giro d'Italia, placed second in the amateur Liege-Bastogne-Liege (the top U.S. result in the race's history), was fifth in the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and fifth in the prestigious Tour de L'Avenir. Now, he dines with reigning Tour champ Wiggins.
"There are no egos. Wiggins and everyone sit at the same table; it's easy with English as the main language," Boswell said. "Meeting Wiggins? If I can say it, it was sort of the same as meeting Lance [Armstrong]. There's this image you see on the news, but then last year, when I celebrated my 21st birthday at [Armstrong's] house. ... You realize they're just people. Wiggins is the ultimate star who's just a guy, if you see that documentary on him, A Year In Yellow, he's just a guy and just doing his job. He's not arrogant even if he's a Tour de France winner; he's helpful to the young riders."
The transition continues for the neo-pro from Bend, Ore. After his final training ride in Mallorca, he'll head to his new home in Nice, France. Ahead of the Spanish camp, he and his girlfriend established base in Nice and now plan to stay the winter to be ready for the new adventure.
Dombrowski will travels to Virginia for the holidays, but Boswell expects to call his family in Bend with well wishes.
"With the travel times, it's hard, with this year being a big step," Boswell said. "I didn't want to miss any training and want to make sure I'm fully set up in Nice, making a place to call home and getting engrained in the Euro culture."
With a laugh, he said he would remain a little bit of a cowboy, zipping back and forth from Spain to the French Riviera. His racing schedule has him starting in the Mallorca Challenge in early February. Sky has him tentatively scheduled to race the Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice, Criterium International, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the Ardennes classics and Tour de Suisse.
"That's one thing I'm talking about; even for a neo-pro, they're looking at everything just to fill me in and get me experience [racing] with the best riders," he said.
Back in Nice, he will begin riding in Sky's full kit with its familiar thin blue line starting Jan. 1, when Boswell officially becomes a professional.