Sky’s Boswell to miss Ardennes classics with knee pain

Young American said riding on a different bike with different shoes and cleats is partly to blame

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GHENT, Belgium (VN) — Ian Boswell (Sky) is taking a forced break after a strong start to the season aggravated a knee problem. Instead of racing the Ardennes classics and Tour de Romandie, Boswell is playing guitar and moving to a new apartment in Nice, France.

“It’s a battle because you go out and do a three-hour ride and it hurts the next day,” Boswell said in a telephone interview. “We decided to take a total rest and let the inflammation heal.”

Sky’s neo-pro last raced in the Critérium International. He was due to support Richie Porte and Sergio Henao in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country), but he had to pull out because of inflammation in his right knee. The Ardennes classics, starting Sunday with the Amstel Gold Race, are now a wash.

The closest Boswell got to the action was watching the Basque Country tour on TV. It hurt as he saw his team, down in numbers, fighting to win the race.

After switching the TV off, Boswell continued doing his core exercises, stretching, and also packing. Next week, he will move to a bigger apartment in Nice, France as he settles into his first year as a pro racing in Europe. The new surroundings will signify a new chapter in his budding career.

Growing pains

Boswell’s knee inflammation came about in December. In fact, he and Joe Dombrowski both had knee issues after changing teams because they were riding with new shoes, cleats, and bikes. The new setups slightly tweaked their positions on the bike, which for Boswell became worse as the races started.

“On the big stage in Paris-Nice that finished in Nice, I pushed it pretty hard because Richie had the yellow jersey,” Boswell said. “Once I did my job, I pulled out with some good knee pain.

“In Critérium International, I did the first day but it kind of flared up. I’ve been off the bike for almost two weeks now. … The thing to do is just rest. I didn’t finish Paris-Nice, Critérium International, and didn’t go to País Vasco. It’s unfortunate, but sort of the neo-pro experience, I guess.”

He has not been sitting still. He traveled down the French Riviera to Monaco for an MRI, which showed that his knee was mechanically sound. He flew to Sky’s headquarters in Manchester, England to adjust his cleats and bike position with physiologist Dan Guillemette. After that session, Boswell discovered the problem was a combination of new equipment, increased workload, and being tall.

“Being a young rider who’s tall, everything grew quick, your tendons and ligaments might not be as hardened as some of the others,” said Boswell, who is a shade under 6-foot-1.

“I talked to Taylor Phinney, who was having knee problems last year, and still is. He told me that the BMC Racing’s doctors were saying that it’s pretty common for taller young riders because there’s more tension on your knees with longer legs. Plus being young, you’re jumping into a bigger league and everything is harder, so there’s more strain.”

The road back

Boswell may head north for the Ardennes classics not to race but to spend time at the team’s hotel with Guillemette. The week will allow time for monitored training sessions and a position check up.

“It is getting better,” Boswell said. “I actually just went out and did my first ride on the road [Sunday], just an hour easy, just trying to do a half-hour on the rollers here and there.” On Tuesday, he rode for two hours.

Boswell looks forward to seeing Ben Swift, his Sky teammate who is also relocating to Nice … and suffering from some knee pain. Boswell said the pair will be on rehab row together.

If everything goes well, Boswell will be back racing in German stage race Bayern Rundfahrt at the end of May.

“It is a long time but it allows me to build my fitness and slowly build up the miles without having any pain in the knee,” Boswell said. “I’ll start back with longer rides and increase the intensity once we know the issue has been resolved.”

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