Ian Boswell declared himself happy with his dramatic ride to fourth place on the Tour of California's queen stage after a battle royale on Mount Baldy.
Boswell dug deep on the race’s toughest ascent to keep in touch with the day’s three leaders - eventual winner Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac), race leader Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) - and even launched his own attack with 500 metres to go.
It didn't stick though and the American finished fourth, just five seconds back, helping him to maintain third overall. He's now 25 seconds back on Majka but has a 19-second cushion on fourth-placed Talansky ahead of the tough 24 kilometre time trial around Big Bear Lake.
Asked if he was happy with his ride, Boswell laughed: “It would have been nice to win! But at the same time there was some good riders up there. I’m happy with it. It would have been nice to take some more time on Talansky, rather than concede a bit of time with his [10 second] time bonus, but on a climb like that you can only do what you can do.
"I tried one little attack with 500m to go but it was a bit early - maybe I should have waited a bit longer. In a sense though, I’m a rookie at trying to go for stages. You learn a bit every time. I feel like I rode the climb pretty well, always coming back to the guys. It could have gone a lot worse!”
"It’s different when you’re riding GC - you don’t want to blow up, because then you lose everything.”
The crowd on Mount Baldy watched the drama unfold on big screens and cheered as Boswell rejoined contact with the leaders inside the final kilometre and instantly launched an attack.
"I had to try something,” he opined. "I kept yo-yoing off the back, so I thought if I go, they won’t be expecting it. I did it, but then realised I was one switchback too early.
“Also, those three guys are all a bit punchier and lighter than me, so for me to attack, especially when it’s that steep, is a lot more difficult. Plus, it’s different when you’re riding GC - you don’t want to blow up, because then you lose everything.”
Boswell is determined to hang onto his podium place but admits he doesn’t know what to expect from tomorrow’s time trial.
"I haven’t done a time trial this season!” he laughed. "So we’ll see. I’ve been training on my TT bike a bit more in anticipation for this event, but I’ve missed two key opportunities to get in some time trial practise at the Volta ao Algarve and Tour de Romandie because I’d pulled out.
"Then, in this event in 2014, I was messing about a little in the time trial warm up and Dave Brailsford said, ‘You better get dialled, because one day you’ll need to do a good time trial!’ And now that day has arrived! I wish I’d listened.
"But of course I’ve done time trials before and I’ve been on my TT bike more this year, so it’s definitely improved.”
Yet whatever happens around Big Bear, the 26 year old revealed that he's happy with his week's work in his homeland.
"If the race were to finish now I’d be third on GC, which I’d say is really successful. It’s been really enjoyable as well - mentally it’s been relatively relaxing and fun to race on somewhat home roads, have my family here, and see friends on the side of the road. I’ve really enjoyed the whole race."