Posts tagged ‘Swift’
After a successful season on both the road and track, Katusha’s Ben Swift is looking forward to 2010. It’s a year he hopes will build on a season that saw him take his first pro win and complete his first Grand Tour at the Giro d’Italia in May. Swift won his first race at the Tour of Britain this year, as he finished first on a sprint stage into Yeovil. However, it was the Yorkshireman’s all-round abilities that have drawn praise from many quarters. He picked up a number of top-ten placings at May’s Giro and most recently performed as part of Great Britain’s successful team pursuit squad at the World Cup in Manchester last weekend. “This year has been an amazing experience. It sounds like a cliché but I really have been living the dream, as they say,” Swift told Cyclingnews. “At he start of the year I just wanted to get as much experience as possible and go to as many different races as I could. If the results came, then great, but it was all about getting as much experience as I could.” Swift’s 2009 season began at the Tour of Qatar in January, where he shared a room with team leader Filippo Pozzato. “He speaks a bit of English and I speak very little Italian, but it was good rooming with him at Qatar. It was strange and unreal being with someone of that class at my first pro race,” said Swift, who along with Robbie McEwen, were the only English-speaking riders on the Russian team. “I spoke to Robbie quite a lot, and he was a great help. Unfortunately we didn’t get to race together as he was injured quite early on in the year.” His move to Katusha at the start of 2009 was a surprise to many, but Swift saw it as an opportunity to develop as a rider, away from the attention he may have received at other, smaller teams. “I was a stagiaire with Barloworld in 2007 and did a lot of races with Tinkoff, and obviously they noticed me. Max Sciandri was involved and played a part in my signing, but I was speaking to a few teams. Katusha were the only ones that put any money on the table straight away.” With one year left on his contract there has already been plenty of speculation linking Swift with a move to Sky for 2011, where he would team up with a whole host of British riders, including team pursuit and former Barloworld teammates Geraint Thomas and Stephen Cummings. For now, Swift would prefer to brush the conjecture aside and focus on racing. Contracts, as he says, can wait. “I want to get a few more wins under my belt in things like Pais Vasco, where I had a few good results [this year] and I want to prove myself again in a Grand Tour, maybe not the Giro. I got in the top-ten a few times, but I want to back that up. Hopefully I’ll get more support. It’s obvious that everyone is talking about the transfer rumours, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ve got one more year then we’ll see.”
Despite three hard weeks of racing, Britain’s Ben Swift was a key protagonist in the main break of the Giro d’Italia’s penultimate stage to Anagni. The Team Katusha rider led the charge from the peloton and slipped away at kilometre four with Robert Förster (Team Milram), Felix Cardenas (Barloworld), Angel Gomez (Fuji-Servetto), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d’Epargne), Anders Lund (Team Saxo Bank), Francesco De Bonis (Diquigiovanni-Androni) and Guillaime Bonnafond (AG2R-La Mondiale) for company. “I actually attacked first and I got away on the cobbled climb. I wasn’t expecting to get a gap but the roads were really tight and I almost over-cooked it on the corners,” Swift told Cyclingnews at the finish in Anagni. “After I attacked a group came across and we worked well but the bunch never really wanted us to get away.” The break worked together smoothly, its lead peaking at over three minutes, before a fast moving train lead by LPR Brakes and Silence-Lotto began to chase. “I was caught just as Menchov and started sprinting for some bonus points, but I’m happy that my Giro ended on a bit of a high.” Swift is competing in his first Grand Tour after a having a strong start to the season with his new squad. And after a string of promising places in the sprints over the last three weeks, and surviving the tough parcours the race threw at him, he’s learnt a lot about himself. “The last three weeks have definitely been a good experience and I’ve really enjoyed it. Okay, the last five days have been tough and that eight hour stage really, really hurt me, but now I can rest before the national championships and I’ll crack on from there,” he said.
With the gorgeous seaside town of Trieste providing the backdrop to the 156-kilometre opening road stage of the 2009 Giro d’Italia, LPR’s Alessandro Petacchi – once considered the top sprinter in the world – beat the man who many consider to be the best sprinter in the world.
On the long, wide-open, Riva III Novembre boulevard, it was vintage Petacchi: the 35-year-old from La Spezia choosing to jump a massive 300 metres from the line, arms bent, torso still, chin almost touching the stem, and powering his massive 11-cog down the right-side barriers. Cavendish tried to overtake him, but it was useless: Petacchi 1, Cavendish 0.
“Today [Sunday] was the first real win of the year,” said Petacchi, whose victory punch – his 24th at the Giro – would have delivered a knockout blow, had he been in the ring with the Anglophone.
Speaking of Anglophones, a trio of English speakers rounded out Stage 2′s top five, British rider Ben Swift (Katusha), Aussie Allan Davis (Quick Step) and American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream) third to fifth, respectively.
“Sprints at the Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta are totally different,” said Petacchi. “I didn’t know much about Cavendish; I saw him win Qatar, I saw him win in Milano-Sanremo, but again, Sanremo is very different to stage races. I wanted to see if he was that fast.
“I started my sprint really far out,” he continued, describing the finale. “I took a risk doing so but I knew [long sprints] don’t suit his characteristics. Sure, I won easily, but it’s not certain that tomorrow or the next time will be the same.”
Said fifth-placed Farrar, “To be honest, I was just thinking about winning the stage; today, winning and taking the pink jersey were going to be one and the same thing.
“Unfortunately I didn’t quite have the right positioning. It was very wide between about four and two kilometres to go, then there were a few bends and your finishing position was pretty much the position in which you went into those bends. And it was chaotic even before that, coming off the climb. I think that’s perhaps why Columbia went too early, just as we hit the front too early with around three kilometres to go.”
It may have been Petacchi‘s 164th career win, but it’s been a long time coming.
“I wasn’t happy watching the Giro on TV last year,” he said, referring to his suspension last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for testing non-negative to asthma medication Salbutamol (which Petacchi has clearance to use), resulting in him being fired from his previous team, Milram. “So to win the first stage at the Giro [after my suspension] is very important to me. I’m really happy to be back.”
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini 3.43.07 (41.951 km/h) 2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - Highroad 3 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Katusha 4 Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step 5 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream