Another Pro Rider quits the World Tour for Gravel: Ian Boswell will race Gravel for Wahoo in 2020

This press release rolled into Gravel Cyclist HQ in the wee hours of the morning, and details the latest professional rider to call it quits and turn to the dark side of cycling / the fun side of cycling; gravel.

“After a successful career racing the European pro circuit on teams including Trek-Livestrong, Team Sky, and Katusha-Alpecin, American pro Ian Boswell has decided to transition from the road calendar to a new challenge — racing for Wahoo Fitness on a circuit of his own design that will include gravel and endurance mountain bike events. Boswell will be chronicling his move from road to gravel racing in Wahoo’s new ​Frontiers campaign​ that will include podcasts and video episodes.”

ian boswell gravel pro

“Wahoo, the leading maker of GPS cycling computers and connected indoor cycling simulators, hired Boswell as a full-time employee and gave him duties including training to race gravel events where he will look to spend time with other Wahooligans who are passionate about gravel. He will also be producing podcasts and videos at events throughout the season. Wahoo has previously sponsored Boswell as a member of Team Sky and Katusha-Alpecin, and approached him with the idea of racing gravel full time as part of a broader effort to support athletes seeking to take on new challenges. Boswell will be racing for Wahoo alongside other top talents including defending Dirty Kanza winners Amity Rockwell and Colin Strickland, as well as Heather Jackson, and Peter Stetina, the defending Belgian Waffle Ride champion.”

“Heather Jackson will race some of the most challenging gravel events in the country in addition to racing a full slate of multisport events, including Kona 2020. Jackson is the American Ironman record holder and a five-time Ironman champion whose accomplishments will be featured in the third episode of Frontiers.”

Peter Stetina announced plans in late 2019 to focus on gravel, leaving behind a professional road career that included racing for BMC and Trek-Segafredo. He’s now moving to gravel to find new challenges and connect with a new part of the sport. Stetina will be featured in the second episode of Frontiers.”

“All sponsored athletes will rely on the class-leading ELEMNT ROAM GPS computer to help them navigate unfamiliar routes. They will train at home with the Wahoo KICKR smart trainer, and track heart rate data with the TICKR heart rate monitor.” – Note, we’ll have our review of the Element Roam GPS appearing soon.

“I feel like the step I have made to walk away from pro cycling is the first step towards the rest of my life,” said Ian Boswell. “I have had a good relationship with Wahoo since I joined Team Sky in 2013 and continued with Wahoo while at Katusha Alpecin. They even came on board to support my annual ride, the Peacham Fall Fondo at my new home in Vermont. When Wahoo came to me with this idea for a gravel project in 2020, it immediately seemed like the perfect next step. I think gravel cycling and these events are still being discovered and what’s possible is still unknown, to me it is a sense of community and a new way to test and push myself.”

“Riding gravel is just so much fun,” said Mike Saturnia, CEO of Wahoo. “Mass participation events like marathons, triathlons, and now gravel races where the everyday rider can line up next to the pros. Everyone who rides a gravel event covers the same course, endures the same conditions, and takes on the same challenges to have an unforgettable experience. We’re proud to support this new frontier in cycling, and excited to continue working with long-time Wahooligan Ian Boswell. Ian has enjoyed a great World Tour career racing across Europe that included finishing the Tour de France.”

“Throughout the 2020 season, Wahoo will host an espresso bar at some of the most exciting gravel races. The espresso bar will give Wahooligans a place to meet while caffeinating and enjoying pre-ride snacks before rolling out, hang out for live recordings of the Breakfast with Boz podcast, and to meet Wahoo’s sponsored riders.”

The Frontier Campaign Video

Questions? Concerns? Chime in below!

In the spirit of the Gravel Cyclist website, feel free to chime in the comments section below with any random thoughts you may have. Play nice, please 🙂

Wahoo Frontier Campaign

13 comments on “Another Pro Rider quits the World Tour for Gravel: Ian Boswell will race Gravel for Wahoo in 2020

  1. The only thing that worries me is that space is limited in a lot of these events already and it’s getting harder and harder for the average normal everyday wannabe to be able to participate. Now there is a lottery system for Kanza, and it’s supposed to be a random draw, but with more and more people wanting in, the probability math of getting a slot gets smaller and smaller. As far as a “Pro” riding these events: from my perspective, I may see him at the start line, on the front row while I move to my place in the back of the pack, and I’ll never see him again. So to me, his 9 hour finish is no different than some non pro who finished in 12 hours compared to my 15 hour finish. Their butts all look the same in the dust off in the distance in the first 5 miles of the race. Of the 1500+ who actually start Kanza there will only be 2 dozen or so who are realistically affected by the prospect of a “Pro” showing up.

  2. I think the questions / concerns are a bit of a troll. Why stir the pot? The real ethos of gravel events is that everyone is welcome. So welcome Ian! I’m sure you will fit right in and kick ass at the same time.

    1. Andrew, are they trolls? I didn’t see the “troll” comments / concerns, but there are legitimate ones. As already mentioned, these events are filling up FAST now, with a more and more of them going to lotteries. Pros going to pay non refundable lottery fees (see Leadville and likely DK the way Life Time is ruining it)? Pros going to have to enter lotteries at all? Pros going to be paying the (what are becoming) astronomical entry fees the rest of us have to pay? Pros going to forfeit their money and pay another astronomical fee next year if they get sick and can’t compete at DK (see DK’s ridiculous new “no transfers” policy) this year like the rest of us? Pros taking up already exceedingly rare spots in the event as they by-pass the lotteries?

      I guess I could care less if pros participate in gravel events, as you say, all are welcome. Sure would like to think they’re stuck with the same rules, uncertain entry prospects and financial burdens we are.

      Seems to me, these events have used “grassroots” people to make their events what they are, and are now bending those grassroots people over and making them grab their ankles to kowtow to pros and money.

      1. Scott the article intro was change to remove those comments / questions.

        I hear you on the change to the nature of these events but that’s inevitable. I raced Ironman back when it was more grassroots including in Hawaii. I got out of it once I couldn’t stand the commercial, crowding, drafting of it any longer and being told how awesome I was for crossing the finish line. So the consumer has a choice. Stop going to events once they get too busy or no longer feel right. I missed out on DKXL lottery. I’ll go find a small local event to do. Thats the way it is. The race organizers have often mortgaged their houses to finance these events in the early years. I cant blame them for taking the money. Thats the nature of business and good for them for having succeeded.

      2. Scott, they aren’t really “pros”. They are former pros that used to get paid to ride bikes, but have since “retired” so that they can … get paid to ride their bikes? Ah, I see it now.

        Not to take anything away from Ian (or Peter or Ted or Taylor or whoever). Leaving your job at an established company to work for yourself or move to a different role in another company is scary. I’ve done it a few times. Now we call it retiring. We used to call it “turning 35”.

        However, I find it odd that all of these “new gravel pros” talk about the inclusivity and camaraderie found in gravel. Maybe it does feel more inclusive than world tour bike racing, but most of us commoners have to win a lottery and pay a triple digit fee to ride in the big races. At the end of the day, these retirees are marketers and the big races are essentially marketing companies, so I guess it’s a match. I’m not really into Gravel Fondos, I’ll just keep doing my local gravel scene and having fun.

        Note: My first draft of this came off super harsh. I hope this one reads a little less salty.

  3. Love the fact that us ‘party at the back’ riders and pro riders can share the same course and experiences and possibly relive them together with a beer afterwards. A highlight of 2019 for me was watching EF Education First videos of Lachlan Morton riding things like DK and the GBDuro, makes the pros very relatable. I hope the pro-oriented events are incorporated with the grass-roots events to maintain that shared-experience vibe. I do worry about races offering prize money and the impact that could have on fair competition, not that it would impact me directly, but could tarnish the events should someone get caught cheating/doping. I do see a day where there is a pro category that has a payout with everyone else fighting it out for age group podiums. This would then start to pull in organizations like USADA to have controls for the pro category riders. I think race organizers have to then ask themselves, “is this what we want?”. For me personally, I just want to be on my bike, I enjoy DK and other gravel events, but in the end I can have fun riding those same roads with a group that’s just out for an adventure.

  4. I thought the gravel movement was doing just fine without USAC. Their new interest reminds me of the famous line: “‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the Spider to the Fly.” It’s from the poem “The Spider and the Fly” (Mary Howitt, 1828) about a cunning spider who entraps a fly into its web through the use of seduction and manipulation.

  5. Pro road cycling is a team sport. The mentality is that someone from the team must win at all costs for the sponsors. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as the drive to win doesn’t lead to cheating. My perception of Gravel racing, as it has evolved however, is one of individual participation and accomplishment. Winning is important to a few elite riders. But for everyone involved- even the elite pros- participating and doing ones best is more important than winning for the team. My concern is that the pro’s and sponsoring companies will begin to erode this gravel race ethos. So far, the pro road converts such as Ted King, have done an admirable job in avoiding the pit falls of “all in for the team”. If this continues on as more sponsored pro’s enter the ranks – then great – its a win/win for everyone. If not, well …. just look at the sorry state of WorldTour Pro bike racing.

    1. Agree with your perspective. For li’l ol’ 65 yo me, this doesn’t matter a whit. I will finish when I finish and those who were kicking my butt when I was 40 will continue to do so. I think the winning pace will probably increase, and the likelihood of Joe Blow winning will decrease. As long as events are for glory and maybe a set of tires and socks, all should stay well, with the pros getting paid for ambassadorship and sponsor exposure. However, once big purses are offered to winners I think things will change, and “gravel road” will become more road-like. But everybody needs to make a living somehow.

  6. Ian and his wife run a great little non-competitive(not timed) gravel fondo in their hometown of Peacham, VT. He makes a point of saying that it’s NOT a race, and he spends the event drifting through the field chatting with folks instead of hammering at the front. And the whole town gets involved — volunteers bake apple pies, and slices are served to the riders at the halfway feed stop.
    So I think he understands the attraction of that kind of event, and he’s not out to ruin gravel riding and racing.
    But I understand the concern. I’m seeing some events become more dominated by hardcore racers, which has taken some of the fun out of them for me. But as long as there’s a mix of events that accommodates racers, recreational riders, and the gamut in between, I’ve still got plenty of options to have the kind of fun I want.

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