Ben Swift Interview: Back on the podium after recent injury
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ben Swift Interview: Back on the podium after recent injury

by Ed Hood at 7:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
Sky Procycling rider to miss Tour, but aims for Olympics and Vuelta

Ben SwiftIt hasn’t taken Team Sky's Ben Swift long to recover from his latest crash: second place behind Lotto’s Andrei Greipel in the Tour of Luxembourg’s second stage bears testimony to that.

During final training for this year’s Giro, Swift crashed and dislocated his shoulder, chipped a bone and ripped some cartilage. It meant he was unable to ride, with Jeremy Hunt taking the Rotherham man’s place in the Denmark Giro prologue.

Returning to competition in the Tour of Norway, Swift assisted Edvald Boasson Hagen to victory; and Luxembourg proves his 2012 road campaign is back on track.

Despite being only 24, Swift seems to have been on the scene for a long time. The first entry of note in Swift’s palmares is second in the 2003 British novices scratch championship on the track.

The following year he took his first national champion’s jersey, in the junior points race; and by 2005 had a win in the Dortmund UIV Cup (U23 six day) to his credit, partnered by Geraint Thomas.

The big international wins began to come in 2007 when he took a stage in the major Italian U23 stage race, the Giro Delle Regione.

His track roots weren’t neglected though, with victory in the European U23 team pursuit championship.

The following season he established himself as one of the big U23 names in Italy with wins in the Coppa della Pace, Coppa G. Romita and a stage in the Pro Tour talent scout’s shop window, the Giro della Valle d’Aosta.

Whilst he had a spell as a stagiaire with Barloworld in 2007 it was 2009 when he signed his first pro contract, with Russian Pro Tour squad, Katusha.

Second place in Nokere Koerse and top three’s in stages of the Tour of Qatar, Pais Vasco and Giro d’Italia were capped with a win in stage seven of the Tour of Britain – a strong debut by any standard.

The 2010 season started in controversial fashion with a tug of war for his services between Katusha and new kids on the block Sky.

As might be expected of a team sponsored by Rupert Murdoch the men in black and blue got their way and Swift’s allegiance switched from Moscow to London.

The season didn’t quite sparkle as much as observers perhaps expected; but the early part of it was spent with the GB team looking for team pursuit gold in Copenhagen.

Despite a 3:55 in the final the rainbow jersey eluded the GB men and it was the Tour de Picardie where Swift scored his first win of 2010; soon adding to it with the final GC in the same race.

There were no such problems of a slow start to 2011 with two stage wins in the Tour Down Under starting the year nicely for him, followed by stage five of the Vuelta Castilla y Leon, stage five of the Tour of Romandie and stage two of the Tour of California.

Road ambitions were shelved for early 2012 with the World Track Championships being the spring priority – and hopefully a springboard to the Olympic team pursuit.

Swift failed to make the victorious GB foursome – but nonetheless enjoyed an excellent Worlds with gold in the scratch, silver in the points and the same colour of medal in the madison with Geraint Thomas.

After the Worlds, Swift announced his intention to shelve his Olympic track ambitions and concentrate on the road for the rest of 2012, but then came the crash

VeloNation spoke to him on the eve of Luxembourg and his tussle with the ‘the Gorilla,’

Ben SwiftVeloNation: How did the crash happen, Ben?

Ben Swift: I was making a training effort, I hit something in the road and went over the handlebars.

I always wear a helmet; I wouldn’t like to think about what it would have been like if I hadn’t had one on.

VN: You’re back pretty quickly…

BS: I did a lot of turbo and treadmill work.

The team was very supportive and so was Chris Pritchard at CPT Therapies, who gave me special treatments.

Long term, I don’t think it’ll affect me – it was ‘so far, so good’ as far as Norway went.

VN: The crash must have meant a reappraisal of your season?

BS: We did that pretty much right away.

Norway was my first race – it felt good to be back - Luxembourg starts tomorrow then I have the Tour de Suisse, the Nationals and the Tour of Poland.

I won’t be at the Tour de France – the Vuelta is the big late season objective.

VN: It must have been tough watching the Giro on TV?

BS: Not really, I crashed before I actually got there – it would have been different if I’d actually started the race.

VN: Which do you prefer, the Tour or Giro?

BS: I don’t know, they’re very different races; the Tour is massive but the Giro is great, the fans are so passionate.

And I liked what I saw of the Vuelta in 2010.

VN: Your team mate Rigoberto Uran took the white jersey in the Giro.

BS: I’ve ridden quite a few races with him, it’s apparent he’s super talented in the mountains.

VN: We saw a lot of Ian Stannard on the front at the Giro, is he as strong as he appears.

BS: And a bit more!He’s just one of those guys who can go to the front and inflict pain on people for kilometre after kilometre.

VN: You had a great track Worlds, but are you frustrated at not adding to your road palmares?

BS: It’s just a different approach. I’ll have a heavy late season programme with the Vuelta and hopefully the Worlds.

VN: You’ve set aside your Olympic track ambitions – but didn’t you consider the omnium?

BS: It crossed my mind. Obviously I had Worlds success at two of the disciplines but I think there are better equipped riders than me to ride it at the Olympics.

One of the reasons I made the decision was so I could focus properly on my road ambitions.

VN: You live in the UK, isn’t that a disadvantage as a pro?

BS: Yeah, in the Isle of Man; it’s not really a problem, the races are all over the place nowadays and you have to travel everywhere, anyway.

VN: The Tour of Norway seemed to go OK for you?

BS: Like I said, it was nice to be back.

I wasn’t concerned with placings; I was there in a team role and did some solid work.

Edvald won a stage and took the overall GC – and we had Lars Petter Nordhaug in third on GC, so it was a great race for the team.

My personal aim in the race was purely preparation.

Ben SwiftVN: When will you know if you’ll be in the Olympic road team?

BS: I’m hopeful, but not sure on the dates for selection – I should imagine it’ll be around the time of the Nationals.

VN: Aren’t the Nationals a little ‘political’ in Sky, looking to get Bradley into the jersey?

BS: The Nationals are definitely a big target for me – as for ‘politics,’ I think the team will just be happy if someone from the team wins.

VN: Can Cav and Brad [Cavendish and Wiggins – ed.] co-exist in the Tour?

BS: I think Cav will be in the Tour team, yes.

Cav proved in the Giro that he doesn’t necessarily need a train – he can read a bike race like no one else, he sees things that other don’t and he has that jump . .

VN: Cycling Weekly magazine recently printed a list of your crashes – that must have been a bit depressing?

BS: No, not really – it was pretty funny, actually. I’ve had a few, haven’t I?

I have great support staff around me – the thing is that I actually don’t fall off very often. But when I do, I make a job of it!


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