“I’m definitely learning a lot, how to stay relaxed in that high-pressure environment,” Swift told Cycling Weekly. “There’s bodies everywhere, fighting for Cav’s wheel. You need body amour.”
He had the help of Sky’s Geraint Thomas and then Edvald Boasson Hagen approaching the final metres of the sprint. Thomas stretched out the group while Boasson Hagen, winner of stage six to Lisieux, went head-to-head with Cavendish’s lead-out man, Mark Renshaw.
Swift marked Cavendish, but lost a few positions before the line and finished sixth behind Spain’s José Joaquín Rojas.
“He will go away and will have learnt from this,” Sky team coach Rod Ellingworth told Cycling Weekly.
“Look at Mark Cavendish in his first Tour [in 2007]: he was all over the place, changing gears, trying this, trying that. He never really got anywhere.”
Swift suffered with such a hard start to the Tour de France, which included many uphill finishes and bad weather. Ellingworth explained that 23-year-old Swift may have had a higher placing if it had been a ‘normal’ first week.
“When will Ben get his first win? Maybe in a couple of years.”
Swift’s ideal finishes are up and down, terrain as he found in the Tour of Romandy, where he won a stage in May. This season, he also won sprints in stages at the Tour Down Under, Castilla y León and the Tour of California.
“It’s different here, on those types of terrain you still have 180 guys left,” Swift said.
“A Tour win? I hope it won’t be too far away. Next year? Why not?”
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index