Ben Swift dreams of 2014 Tour start on home roads
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Ben Swift dreams of 2014 Tour start on home roads

by Kyle Moore at 1:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
South Yorkshire native knows earning selection will be tough

Ben SwiftAs details of the 2014 Tour de France start in Great Britain have emerged, they have no doubt piqued the interest of many British riders, amongst them 25-year-old sprinter Ben Swift (Sky Procycling). Born in South Yorkshire, Swift would spend parts of the first three stages of next year’s Tour riding on familiar roads, a tantalizing thought to the Sky rider.

Swift also acknowledged that being selected to the Sky Procycling Tour roster would be extremely difficult, with its all-in stance based around general classification men Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. Though July 2014 is still a long way off, Swift could get his chance to race for a victory and possible yellow jersey, given the setup of the first three stages, along with the departure of king sprinter Mark Cavendish to Omega Pharma-Quick Step.

Stage one will be a road stage, with the yellow jersey in play, and will traverse the Yorkshire Dales, from Leeds to Harewood. Stage two goes from York to Sheffield, a hillier route compared to a relatively flat stage one. Stage three should be another sprint finish, on the Mall, and will bring back memories of the 2012 Olympic road race finish.

Having previously ridden the Tour for Sky in 2011, with a best finish of 6th on stage 15 to Montpellier, Swift was quick to acknowledge the difficulty of any Tour de France opener, no matter the roads.

“It's going to be a hard route and the terrain is going to throw up a few surprises,” he told Sky Sports. “The Tour is such a hard race in general. When I rode it in 2011, it started with road stages and no prologue, which is the same next year. It just makes it so hard and so fast. Straight away there's no pecking order. We all know the first week of the Tour is crazy anyway, but even more so when there is not a prologue because everyone is fighting for position.”

After a sprinter’s stage opens the summer proceedings next year, stage two brings about a Classics-type stage, perhaps to suit the tested men like Philippe Gilbert, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), or Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). “The terrain on stage two has eight climbs and a lot of them are thrown into the last 60 kilometres. It's maybe not going to catch people out, but it will certainly be a hard, hard stage, especially with it being stage two,” Swift added.

Having grown up in and experienced the Yorkshire area, and having seen the Olympic atmosphere around the very successful cycling events in London 2012, Swift has no doubt that the Tour and its followers will be in for a treat in 2014.

“It looks like a really great route. Yorkshire is going to more than do the Tour justice,” he proclaimed. “The fans are going to be amazing and if we get a nice bit of sunshine, it is going to be beautiful.

“Growing up in and around Sheffield, that's where I rode my bike, but I never thought that's where the Tour de France would one day be. I'm also familiar with the North Yorkshire roads and there are a lot of really interesting climbs up there, too.”

To break into Sky’s Tour roster next season, Swift will no doubt have to develop into a more serious sprinting threat, as he has shown signs of becoming a top tier speedster, though he has yet to make that step. Luckily, the Brit has plenty of time to grow in the meantime, though he knows selection still won’t come easy, given his squad’s GC focus.

“Riding in front of home fans - I can't think of an experience like it," Swift stated. “It's going to be super-hard for me to get selected for the Tour de France given the strength of Team Sky at the minute, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride a race I grew up watching, and the biggest race in your sport, going past where you grew up. That's going to be high on my list to try and achieve - making that Tour de France team.”


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