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Ian Boswell eager for 2014 after a season spent learning

YANQING, China (VN) — Ian Boswell (Sky) is ending his 2013 season wiser to the ways of professional cycling. After races in China and Japan, he will head home with bags of experience.

“The biggest thing in my first year was gaining experience on how Team Sky works,” Boswell told VeloNews. “The things I need to do to be prepared for racing on this team next year and at this level. The things I need to do in training and recovering. All the small things they emphasize.”

The 22-year-old Oregonian chatted from astride his Sky-issued Pinarello before the start of the Tour of Beijing. The Chinese stage race and next week’s Japan Cup mark the end of his first year as a WorldTour racer.

Last year at this time, he inked a pro contract with Sky after riding as a stagiaire for Dutch team Argos and an amateur team, Bontrager. Since then, he has made the difficult journey to Europe, settled in Nice, France, and raced all over Europe. He helped Richie Porte win Paris-Nice, excelled in the Tour of Austria, crashed in Spain and rebounded in Canada.

“It’s crazy, the season went so quick,” Boswell said. “It seems like it was just yesterday [it started]. There were a lot of ups and downs between. It was a huge learning experience this year, adapting to the WorldTour.”

Next to him, a handful of young Garmin-Sharp and BMC Racing riders waited to start the stage. Boswell looked back 20 yards to Mat Hayman and said that he and others like him provide help.

“Hayman and Bernie [Eisel] will tell you little tips or just give you the wheel to follow in the group. A lot of it is just being aggressive because everyone out here is good, so you just have to go for it when you have the chance,” he said.

“Riding in the pack has been a huge change, going from the under-23 to the WorldTour races, where everyone’s a good bike handler. Just positioning and staying at the front, making sure you are always concentrating. If you ease up for one second, you’ll find yourself at the back and you’ll spend 30 minutes fighting to get back up to the front again.”

Boswell will head home for Thanksgiving, then return to Europe for a team training camp, at which he will program his 2014 season. Building on his experience, he hopes to start in the Ardennes classics and his first grand tour. As an under-23 rider last year, Boswell placed fifth in the Tour de l’Avenir and second in the amateur Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“I’m already really excited about next year. I know I need to take a good off season and really recover and look back, see what I learned and what I can improve on,” said Boswell.

“I’m excited, I almost want to go straight into next season. At the same time, I need to enjoy the time off because I’m going to have to work hard next year to be at the level I want to be at. In one more year, I’ll have more confidence to go for a podium place or a win.”

The announcer calls out five minutes to start. Boswell clicks one shoe into its pedal, ready to ride toward the end of a fruitful first season.