American Ian Boswell will switch over to Katusha-Alpecin from Team Sky in 2018, with the Swiss team saying “the time has come to switch to a leader’s role.”
Boswell, now 26-years-old, joined Sky on a three-year deal in 2013 and renewed ahead of the 2016 season, but has now signed a contract for a two-year stay at Katusha.
“It’s a bit like the band is breaking up,” Boswell told Cycling Weekly.
“Kennaugh left for Bora, Swift left last year for UAE. I had messages of support for this decision, though, including one from Luke Rowe this morning.”
Sky had not offered Boswell a new contract, but other teams called his agent wanting his experience.
“I am really happy to have Ian Boswell with us,” Katusha general manager José Azevedo said in a press release. “He brings a lot of experience with him and I believe in him.
“The time has come that Ian can make the shift from his domestique role to one as a leader. The reason why we’ve contracted him is because we trust him.
“In five years with Team Sky he shown to be reliable, and also in three Grand Tours. In this year’s Tour of California he showed no problem in assuming the role as a leader. We haven’t seen the best of Ian yet.”
Boswell rode the 2015 and 2016 Vuelta a España in support of Chris Froome and the 2016 Giro d’Italia for Mikel Landa. This year, he aimed for early season stage race success and placed fifth in the Tour of California.
Tour de France champion Froome counted on Boswell for his 2015 Critérium du Dauphiné victory. He also called up his American team-mate to accompany him on a two-week altitude camp in South Africa at the start of the 2016 season.
Katusha has plans for Boswell’s next step both as a leader riding for victories and for stars Ilnur Zakarin and Simon Spilak.
“After five years in the same team, it is a big but important step for my own development,” Boswell said. “The talks with José Azevedo were very good from the beginning and I liked where he sees me as a rider.
“I hope to bring my experience into the team and look forward to race with strong riders like Ilnur Zakarin or Simon Spilak. And of course, also to be able to ride for the victory one time or another for myself.”
Watch: Vuelta a España 2017 essential guide
Boswell earlier this year said that 2017 and 2018 would be a “pivotal point” in his career. “I need to dictate myself to my career goals. Do a stick in the role where I’m at, continue to improve as a domestique, or branch out?”
He wants his chance to lead. He added, “It’s about being more selective and targeting races.”
The former Russian team, now Swiss, signed Australian Nathan Haas from Dimension Data and reportedly agreed, though not yet announced, on sprinter Marcel Kittel from team Quick-Step Floors.
Its current top sprinter and Classics rider Alexander Kristoff is leaving for team UAE Emirates. Katusha re-signed Zakarin and Spilak already.