Ian Boswell hopes to thrive under the pressure of leading Team Sky at the Tour of California.
The American outlined his home race as a target at the beginning of the 2017 campaign and, in his fifth year with the team, Boswell believes he’s ready to take on a leadership role.
But he’s quick to point out the strengths of the team-mates he will have alongside him in California and the number of cards the team has to play.
He said: "This is my fifth year on the team and I’ve always ridden for other people. I’ve never been leader, or designated leader in a performance plan, and as we get closer there’s a little bit of pressure - which is good.
"But with the team we'll have there we have all sorts of opportunities to win with all sorts of riders. Tao [Geoghegan Hart] is going and he’s been riding really well this year, plus Pete [Kennaugh].
“Then we have [Elia] Viviani and Danny [van Poppel] for the sprints, and with the way the race is laid out it’s just the Thursday and Friday stages - Mount Baldy and the time trial in Big Bear – that are the GC days.
“It’s not like we’re riding for Froomey or G, where we’ll have eight guys riding on the front from day one. It’s just not the way we’re going to ride. We’ll have opportunities to win stages, and I wouldn’t want to harm someone else’s chances to win to help my own.”
I’ve never been leader, or designated leader in a performance plan, and as we get closer there’s a little bit of pressure - which is good.
Boswell has enjoyed a solid build up to the race, although it could have been smoother - after playing a crucial role in setting up Geraint Thomas for his Tour of the Alps win, ‘Boz’ suffered a rough crash just 10km into the final stage. Early reports suggested a broken collarbone, yet thankfully Ian just suffered a few bumps and bruises.
He was able to race at the Tour de Romandie four days later, before flying to his family home in Oregon for a week of build up ahead of the Californian test.
“It will be nice to go back to the race,” he added. “It will be my fourth time racing it. It’s WorldTour this year and it’s a target that I set out with the team at the beginning of the year.
"I’ve just been trying to get in the best shape I can for it, and everything is on track. I’m fine after that small crash at the Tour of the Alps."
It’s not strictly a home race for Boswell, although he does have strong Californian connections, and he’s excited about showing the team the sights in his homeland.
"I’m not Californian myself,” he explained, "but I used to live in Chico, California, for a couple years of university and both my parents are Californian, so we have lots of friends and family there. Plus I’m the only American on the team now! At one point we had three, but now we’re down to one.
“It’s nice to be part of a non-American team and take foreign riders to my country. I won’t play tour guide, but I can gave a little insight into things to do. Who knows, if we’re stuck in traffic, maybe we can stop at In-N-Out Burger! It’s also nice for my family because they get to come along to watch."