British sprinter Ben Swift hoping to continue good form that saw him win a stage of Tour of the Basque Country
Ben Swift has a “good opportunity” to win a stage in the Giro d’Italia this month. With Sky focusing its big guns at the Tour de France, Swift received a ticket to race the Giro and a chance to win his first grand tour stage.
“I feel ready to do the Giro d’Italia,” Swift said. “I’ve known that I was on the start list for the last two weeks. I’ve come off of good streak and it’s a good chance to use this form for a win.”
The 26-year-old Englishman had expected only to race the Vuelta a España this year. With Richie Porte and Peter Kennaugh unfit, however, team Sky changed its plans.
Sky starts the race with minimal GC ambitions. Dario Cataldo, 12th overall twice, will race for the overall. Swift and Edvald Boasson Hagen will fight for stage wins. The team’s expectations are high given Swift’s season so far: three wins, including a stage in the Basque Country last week, and a third place in Milan-San Remo.
“He needs to maintain that momentum here in the Giro d’Italia and keep his spirits high, which he usually does,” sports director, Dan Frost said. “He will have opportunities since we are starting without a big GC leader. The other riders are going to support his chances, including Edvald.”
Frost said that he and the team’s other sports director, Dario Cioni will sit down and discuss which stages work best for Swift and which ones work for Boasson Hagan. He added that if one of them is not leading then he would help the other.
“The days that feature a small climb or something else that will whittle down the peloton should suit Swift,” Frost explained.
A stage win would further complete Swift’s return after last year when he crashed and re-injured his shoulder. Swift sat out the 2012 Giro after fracturing his shoulder in a training accident and was replaced by Jeremy Hunt.
“Last year, was a bit of a nightmare and a year to forget,” Swift said last month. “The biggest thing for me was to get my consistency back, my confidence back.”
Swift placed third behind winner Alexander Kristoff in Milan-San Remo in March. He kept rolling through the Coppi and Bartali stage race, where he won twice. And then he scored a big one. He won at the WorldTour level in the Tour of the Basque Country last month.
“He was really happy after the Coppi and Bartali. That increased his self-confidence,” Frost added. “When he went to the Basque Country, he won the hard climbing stage ahead of GC riders [Alejandro Valverde and Michal Kwiatkowski]. It was amazing to see him do that.
“Given what I’ve seen, he has a good opportunity to win his first grand tour stage in the Giro d’Italia this month.”