Ben Swift, who has not competed since suffering a non-displaced fracture of his vertebrae at the Tour of Flanders earlier this month, will make his return to action at the Tour de Yorkshire this week. His recovery has gone well, and the 30 year-old from Rotherham is looking forward to racing on home roads.
Swift feels he has unfinished business with the Tour de Yorkshire. He had been one of the pre-race favourites going into the first edition in 2015 but crashed out on the opening stage into Scarborough and watched from home as his then-Team Sky team-mate Lars Petter Nordhaug took the overall title.
Since then Swift has changed teams to UAE Team Emirates, but will actually be representing the Great Britain Cycling Team when he arrives at the start line in Beverley on Thursday. Although he is playing down his chances after his recent lay-off, Swift can’t wait to get going and knows the peloton will receive a warm welcome in his home county between 3-6 May.
He said: “The crash at the Tour of Flanders forced me to have a week off the bike, and obviously that’s not ideal, but I’ve been feeling better and better over the last few weeks and am definitely looking forward to the race now.
“I haven’t had the chance to ride it since I crashed in 2015 so I’m really happy to be back, and it’s always an extra-special honour when you’re representing your national team.
“It’s going to be a really proud four days for me and I can’t wait to see the massive crowds that’ll be lining the route. I’m sure I’ll recognise a few faces along the way and I always look forward to riding in Yorkshire.”
With such a varied route for 2018, Swift feels there will be plenty of riders eyeing up opportunities for stage and overall successes, and is particularly looking forward to tackling the race’s first-ever summit finish on the Côte de Cow and Calf.
“I’ve ridden the Cow and Calf on training rides before, and while it’s not the longest climb, the steep gradient will mean a fair few riders should be dropped before the finish of stage two,” he added. “Stages one and three look like they’ll be suited to sprinters but that final day looks a really tough one.”
And Swift is also looking forward to competing in the same peloton as his younger cousin Connor, who will be representing Madison Genesis. He said: “We don’t get the chance to compete alongside each other that much so it’ll be nice to have Connor there, and I’m sure we’ll get the chance to have a catch up.
“It’s been great to see him make the step up to the professional ranks over the last few years and it’ll be great experience for him riding in front of such a big crowd, and going up against some of the best riders in the world.”