Swift's Tour Down Under wins help GB's Olympic hopes
Ben Swift wins stage, Tour Down Under 2011, stage six
Not only were Ben Swift's two Tour Down Under stage wins and third place in the final overall classification an endorsement of the British rider's talent, but they also gave British Cycling an unexpected windfall of qualification points for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Prior to the start of the TdU in Adelaide, Australia, last week British Cycling had hoped to come away with six points from a stage win by Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad). But instead Swift's solid performance for Team Sky in the opening race in this year's UCI Worldtour has netted Britain 82 points. Cavendish's performance in the race was curtailed due to a crash on stage one.
Number of riders allowed to take part in the Olympic Games road race in London next year will be based on points accrued this season - Cavendish will be bidding for the win, and he'll need a strong team behind him.
The first edition of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Worldtour Ranking - based on results in counting events on the UCI's Worldtour Calendar - was published this afternoon, and Swift sits in third place behind TdU winner Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Cervelo) and TdU runner-up Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad), both of Australia.
Unsurprisingly, Australia tops the ranking by nation and Rabobank head up the team classification after Michael Matthews and Laurens ten Dam finished in the top five of the TdU.
The Worldtour Ranking is compiled using a points system, with points awarded for one-day race, tour stage and stage race overall finishing positions for events in the UCI's Worldtour calendar.
The amount of points awarded depends on the ranking of the event. For example, winning the Tour de France overall gives a rider twice as many points (200) as winning the Tour Down Under overall (100).
Swift's tally of 82 points from the TdU (70 points for placing third overall, six points per stage win) is more than the points value of four stage wins at the Tour de France (20 points per stage win). To place Swift's amount of points into perspective, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Geraint Thomas, Steve Cummings and Adam Blythe scored 45 points between them in the whole of the 2010 season.
Last year's World Ranking was topped by Spaniard Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha). Top placed Briton was Mark Cavendish in 22nd place thanks to his stage wins in the Tour de France (five), Vuelta a Espana (three), Tour de Romandie (one) and Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (one).
Swift now switches his attention to the track, where he is due to make an appearance at the Manchester round of the UCI Track World Cup on February 18-20.
The next event in the 2011 Worldtour is Paris-Nice from March 6-13. British national champion Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) has said that he is aiming to place highly in the opening prologue time trial, which would give Britain more valuable points.
UCI Worldtour Ranking 2011 (at January 24)
1. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo 106 points
2. Matthew Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad 93 points
3. Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky 82 points
4. Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 70 points
5. Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank 52 points
6. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar 46 points
7. Andre Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto 38 points
8. Blel Kadri (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale 20 points
9. Allan Davis (Aus) Astana 10 points
10. Robbie McEwen (Aus) RadioShack 7 points