British rider may look elsewhere when his contract ends as team and personal targets move further apart

Ben Swift is keeping an open mind this year as his ambitions and Team Sky’s GC objectives move further apart.

The 28-year-old kicked off his 2016 season at the Tour Down Under with an eye on stage success, but his best finish was second behind Simon Gerrans on stage four.

Swift — one of only five riders to have ridden for Sky since the team’s debut 2010 campaign — says he is “happy at the minute” with the team, but that he has observed a divergence in direction.

“In Sky we don’t really have that [lead-out train] anymore. The first couple of years we were all about that, but, quite rightly so, the team has become so dominant in stage racing that that’s very much second now,” Swift said.

No more Sky train

Abu Dhabi Tour - Stage 1

Best Swift riding in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Graham Watson

Sky does foster sprinters in Swift, Giro d’Italia stage winner Elia Viviani and new signing Danny Van Poppel, but has become the stage race team of reference with three Tour de France victories among others in recent years. Where that leaves Swift beyond 2016 remains to be seen.

“I’m on my second year and there was an option with a third,” he said of his existing contract. “I need to speak with the team and see where we are at with that and what my options are.”

Nonethless, the team granted the versatile sprinter permission to stay at his South Africa winter base instead of travelling to the normally compulsory December team training camp in Majorca.

“I’ve been there [South Africa] for four years now so I know I can train pretty well there, instead of adding more travel days,” he said. “It’s perfect for what I need — six-seven kilometre climbs, it’s windy, bit of flat, good bit of sun, which you don’t get in Yorkshire or the Isle of Man
in November.”

Swift has identified the Tour de Yorkshire as an early-season objective after crashing out of the opening stage and injuring his shoulder last year.

“Generally, I just want to be consistent, have a good start and get some confidence back.

Milan-San Remo will definitely be back on the cards again but the cobbled Classics not so much. For me, it’s going back to the weeklong stage races that are lumpy,” he added.

“I enjoy the big bunch sprints but they’re not really my forte. It’s much better when there are 30-40 guys left.”

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    That’s a bit harsh Chris.

  • lee

    There was a sprint at TDU… https://youtu.be/EaqI2pEgzvE

  • Totally unfair. The lad has a fantastic talent. He should take up a stage role as reverse Houdini, the man can get boxed in far more effectively than Houdini could ever get out.

  • Chris

    Oh come on Ben, you’re just not that good. You had lead outs at TDU. And your asset is reduced sprints where lead outs are less of an issue anyway. I’d be feeling pretty lucky if I were you, getting the benefit of being the only British sprinter in the only British WT team, and the disproportionate backing that that brings you. Who else is going to keep giving you lead outs to rack up all those 9th place finishes?