Join us as we return to our favourite episodes from the 2018 season, one for each of the twelve days of Christmas.

Ian Boswell’s Tour Diary

We’ve commissioned rider diaries before, but this was the first one at the Tour de France. Ian’s was very different to Joe Dombrowski’s from the 2016 Giro. Whereas Joe’s was quite leftfield, and offered an insight into how riders switch off and try to relax, Ian’s was focused on the race – or rather, on his and his team, Katusha-Alpecin’s, race.

I liked the fact that he interviewed a couple of teammates – an ‘exit interview’ with Rick Zabel after Zabel climbed into the broomwagon on the road to Alpe d’Huez was a highlight. But what I most appreciated about Boswell’s diary was the understanding it gave me of what it is like to ride the Tour in a team that is under-performing – by which I mean, whose leaders are under-performing, because this, after all, is how teams are judged.

Marcel Kittel, their sprinter, was eliminated in the Alps and Ilnur Zakarin, their GC man, was below par. For much of the Tour they were down to four riders. Boswell described the way they rallied around Zakarin, and tried to salvage something for him, and for themselves, and it made for a compelling listen – it also gave me a completely different perspective on a top 10 finish at the Tour. After a big effort on the final mountain stage, Zakarin made it to Paris in ninth place. It made me wonder whether “À la Zubeldia”, our jokey description of riders who ride anonymously into the top 10, was entirely fair. Probably not.

by Richard Moore

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