Team Sky had lost its team leader, and the squad was in disarray.

But with the help of Bend’s Ian Boswell, the team recovered to help a rider claim the mountains classification and win a stage in the 2016 Giro d’Italia.

In his second Grand Tour race, the 25-year-old Boswell made significant strides in his pro cycling career as he looks toward a possible start in the 2017 Tour de France. The three-week, 21-stage Giro, which concluded on Sunday, is one of European professional cycling’s three Grand Tours, along with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.

During stage 10 of the Giro, Team Sky’s Mikel Landa of Spain dropped out of the race due to illness. Boswell and the other Sky members had been riding to help Landa secure an overall victory.

“It was a bit of a bummer to lose our team leader,” Boswell said Thursday, reached via phone at his current residence in Nice, France. “But at the end we salvaged the race. I think we did a good job of doing the best we could, having lost our team leader. We put a lot of energy toward setting him up for the win, and the whole team was around him. It’s disappointing to lose a leader like that, but it was good that we came around as a team and still had quite a few objectives after he dropped out of the race.”

Boswell placed 15th in stage 15, a 6½-mile mountain time trial, and 27th in stage 19, a 97-mile road race in the Alps. He finished 71st overall out of the 156 riders who completed the race.

Sky’s Mikel Nieve, from Spain like Landa, won the blue jersey as the best climber, and he also won stage 13. Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali, riding for the Astana Pro Team, claimed the pink jersey as the overall winner.

Boswell, a 2009 graduate of Bend’s Summit High School, raced in the Vuelta last year and finished third in stage 11. Also in 2015, he finished seventh overall in the prestigious Tour of California.

Known for his abilities as a climber and all-around rider, the 6-foot-2, 154-pound Boswell said he continues to improve while competing at the highest level of pro cycling.

“For me, in my second Grand Tour, I felt a lot better than I did in the Vuelta,” Boswell said. “I was given some opportunity. I didn’t really capitalize as much as I would have liked to, but it was another great learning experience and I’m constantly improving, which is good to see.”

Boswell added that he was especially pleased with his 15th-place result in the time trial, and with the strength he showed during the latter stages of the long race.

“That was a good day for me, and a good result,” he said of the time trial. “It was nice to have something that was a bit of a confidence booster going into the mountain stages, knowing that I was climbing well and everything. My fitness was there, but maybe not as good as I would have liked. At the same time, I performed well in stages 19 and 20 for the team, which was good to see … riding well after three weeks of racing, whereas in the Vuelta last year I sort of faded toward the end. I’ve seen improvement as far as just the depth I have in the race.”

Boswell said he plans to race in the Tour de Suisse, June 11-19 in Switzerland, before returning to the United States for about a month to visit his girlfriend in Vermont and his family in Bend.

He still has his sights set on racing in his first Tour de France in 2017.

“Getting to the Giro and performing in the third week was a good indication of me being able to do the Tour (de France) next year,” he said. “So that will definitely be an objective.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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