VeloVoices met up with Ian Boswell and Joe Dombrowski when they first joined Sky and made the big move across the Atlantic to settle in Nice, France. One year on, we’re catching up with the boys to see how they’re faring.
Sheree: So, one year on, how’s it going?
Joe: It’s the start of our second season and Sky Procycling now has a bit of a base here with a number of riders, coaches and members of staff. How many of us are there here now?
Ian: I think there are about 14 riders based around here. The weather’s good, training’s great and it’s easy to get to the races from here. In short, it’s a convenient spot to live with a very nice lifestyle.
Sheree: More importantly, are you enjoying your new life in Nice?
Joe: Oh yes, if I had to choose to live anywhere in Europe, it would be here.
The sun is out. Putting the nice back in Nice… pic.twitter.com/kQlBuvAO86
— Joe Dombrowski (@JoeDombro) 11 Février 2014
Ian: It now feels like home. I’m 23 years old; I have my own car and apartment here. All my clothes are here, I’ve even bought a coffee machine.
— Ian Boswell (@theboz91) 17 Février 2014
So, when I say I’m coming home, I mean here to Nice. I’ll stay here whichever team I’m riding on. Even though we’re not here too often, it’s great to have somewhere to call home. We’ve made friends outside of cycling too and so feel more incorporated into the community.
— Ian Boswell (@theboz91) 26 Février 2014
Sheree: Would you consider staying on here after your cycling career?
Joe: I don’t really know what will happen in the future: possibly not. Perhaps if I were to marry a lovely French girl. But otherwise, I’ll most probably move back to US.
Ian: I might consider staying here. I’ve started to look at properties with a view to buying somewhere – not in Nice but up in the hills. I even have a date with a French girl this Friday, so who knows?
Sheree: Do you have time to do anything outside of cycling?
Ian: We don’t really have time to do other sports here. Back in US, Joe skies, as do I. I also hike and I’m learning to play the guitar but we’re pretty busy just training during the season. I also go hunting when I’m back home. Recently, when I was in St Paul-en-Foret, I met a guy who’s friends with Dan Frost, one of our directeurs sportif, and he’s offered to take me hunting next season for wild boar.
Sheree: I guess when you were back home during the off-season people asked if you’d ridden the Tour de France?
Ian: In the US everyone knows about the Tour de France and people who are cycling fans know all the big races such as Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Paris-Nice, and Milan-San Remo. But most don’t know about some of the smaller races, such as Tour du Haut Var and Tour of the Med. Of course, they’re still big and difficult races on the European circuit, but people [in the US] don’t know these so much. People all know about the Tour and they’ll always ask you if you’ve ridden it.
Joe: As if that’s the only race in the cycling season!
Ian: They don’t understand, they think because you’re on a team that rides the Tour de France, you’ll ride the Tour, even though you might spend 100 days a year racing and only 21 of those at the Tour.
Sheree: When you were younger and watching racing on the TV did you think to yourself that one day you’d ride the Tour de France?
Ian: I did. We had a bunch of kids on our street with bikes and in July we used to stage a mini Tour de France, with a yellow t-shirt for the victor. We had timed races and time trials, though they were much shorter; like about five minutes!
Joe: I didn’t start out competing until much later, so as a kid I didn’t have any aspirations to become a professional. But then once I started racing and doing well at a lower level, I started to think that maybe I could do it as a career.
Ian: One thing I’ve learned this last year is that while you might start off wanting to ride the Tour de France, the closer that becomes a possibility as you move up the ranks, and then when you arrive at a team like Sky, you begin to understand what it takes to ride the Tour. That gulf looks even wider than it did when you were younger. You begin to understand what a huge jump up is involved. Even the difference between a race like Paris-Nice and the Tour is immense.
Sheree: So you won’t be riding the Tour de France any time soon?
Ian: No! We’re both only 23 this year and, with a team like Sky, they choose the group of riders who are most likely to ride the Tour based on the parcours, the competition etcetera fairly early on. Neither of us has yet ridden a grand tour and it’s much more likely that we’ll be tested out in the Giro or Vuelta. The Tour is such a hard race – the biggest and hardest – Sky will send its most experienced riders.
Sheree: What are your favourite training rides around Nice?
Joe: Today I rode up Madone d’Utelle, I really like that climb. I also like all the routes up the Col du Turini and often ride to St Martin de Vesubie and Valdeblore. I also like riding over into Italy.
Madone d’Utelle. Mountains to the sea. pic.twitter.com/MKipcBhO0J
— Joe Dombrowski (@JoeDombro) 25 Février 2014
Ian: One of my favourites is Col de Vence. It’s a steady climb with beautiful views. Today I rode up Col d’Eze. I really enjoy that ride too because, on the one side, you can see the whole coastline and then, on the other side, you can see the snow on the mountains. It’s magical and, of course, has some history with Paris-Nice.
Col de Eze. Such a nice one straight out of the city. pic.twitter.com/KJHO4APB53
— Joe Dombrowski (@JoeDombro) 17 Février 2014
Joe: To be honest it depends very much on the season, during the winter we tend to stay much closer to the coast and then head progressively more into the hinterland as it warms up.
Sheree: Who are your regular training partners?
Ian: There are so many riders based here now that we can pretty much take our pick. We train with Joe’s flatmate Larry Warbasse (BMC), Taylor Phinney (BMC), the Sky guys in Monaco like Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas and some local amateur racers. Last year I also rode a fair bit with Tristan Valentin and Geoffroy Lequatre but they’ve now both retired. There are quite a few Americans who have recently moved to Nice, like Tejay van Garderen (BMC), he’s in Eze. How many of us are there here?
Joe: Got to be at least five or six Americans.
Ian: My flatmate is Josh Edmondson, who’s also on Sky, so I have a training buddy.
Joe: At this point there are enough guys here that there’s always someone wanting to do a similar training ride to you.
Sheree: You both had solid performances in your first year and held your own in the races. You must now be looking to build on that base. What races do you have on your agendas?
Ian: I’ve just ridden the Tour du Haut Var. Next up is GP Citta di Camaiore, a Criterium in Aix-en-Provence, Roma Maxima and Coppi e Bartali. Afterwards, I’m doing the Ardennes classics, Tour de Romandie and then the Tour of California. That’s all I know of for now though I’ll probably ride the Tour of Austria again.
Joe: My schedule’s pretty similar. I’ll ride Camaiore, Roma Maxima, Coppi e Bartali, Giro del Trentino, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Tour of California and probably Tour of Austria too.
Sheree: What about Strade Bianche?
Joe: I’m not riding Strade Bianche but I’d really like to as I did a stage on it in 2012. It’s a bit like riding across cobbles, but easier. Anyone can do it. It’s fun.
Sheree: If you could win only one race what would it be and why?
Ian: For me, it would be La Doyenne, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, because it’s only a one-day race, not 21! It’s a big race, one of the monuments. I did it as a junior and as an espoir (Ian finished runner-up in 2009 and 2012) and it’s my favourite race.
Joe: For me it would have to be the Giro d’Italia.
Sheree: Then you’d have the full-set: Baby Giro and Grand Giro. (Joe won the Baby Giro in 2012.)
Joe: I love racing in Italy. Everyone asks “don’t you want to win the Tour de France?” Of course I do, but …
Ian: It’s a hard race to win!
Joe: At this point, I’d just like to win a race.
Ian: I want to claim the Col de la Madone on Strava.
Sheree: Thank you both for your time. I’m sure VeloVoices readers will join us in wishing you every success this season and maybe even a trophy or two!