Swift disappointed but sportsmanlike in loss to Bennati
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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Swift disappointed but sportsmanlike in loss to Bennati

by Kyle Moore at 10:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
British sprinter out-thrown by Radioshack-Nissan veteran

Ben SwiftBen Swift (Sky Procycling) picked up his best result of the 2012 Vuelta a España on Thursday, sprinting to second place on stage 18 to Valladolid.

Winner of two stages last month in the Tour de Pologne, Swift has been unable to open his account at the Vuelta, in spite of his best efforts to reward his Sky team, which has been working for Swift in the closing kilometres of flat stages.

With John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano), winner of four stages this Vuelta out of the picture, Swift had his best chance at a victory on stage 18. But Daniele Bennati (Radioshack-Nissan) had been shut out as well, in spite of several close calls of his own behind Degenkolb.

Sky had positioned Swift well again, leading him into the final 200 metres with a clear path on the right side of the road. Swift came around the early-moving Lloyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale) and took full flight. But just before he could reach the line, Bennati found a hint of daylight on Swift’s right side and snuck by with less than a meter to spare.

The Italian veteran took his sixth career Vuelta stage win in front of the Sky youngster by mere centimeters.

“The team was fantastic once again and it’s just a shame that I couldn’t get that result for them,” the dejected Swift was quoted on the team website. “We definitely deserve something from this race because of the way we’ve been riding together throughout the entire three weeks. It’s a real shame.”

After a magical July, Sky has had a more difficult Vuelta, with GC star Christopher Froome labouring in fourth, having tapped out his energy reserves after a thrilling run to second place in the Tour de France.

Though he had another miss on the stage, Swift was honest in his elaboration on the sprint finale, as the Brit took a clean, straight line and was barely edged in a fair sprint.

“As for the sprint itself, I could probably have closed the door a bit more on Bennati, but as he was near the barriers that might have been a bit unsporting,” Swift admitted. “I went as hard as I could though and was just pipped at the line.

“It was super close but I knew within a split second that I’d lost. We both looked at each other immediately after but he saw my head drop and then he raised his hands.”

With three stages left, Swift could have as many as two more opportunities at a stage victory. Friday’s event into La Lastrilla features a moderately uphill grade in the final kilometre that could shake out the sprinters. And Sunday’s processional into Madrid is likely to end in a bunch kick.

“Although I’m disappointed today, overall my condition is good,” Swift concluded. “I was very tired at the start today because I did quite a lot of work for the team yesterday on what was a very fast day. I was hurting a bit but the guys all looked after me and I really came around towards the end.”

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