National champion Ben Swift relishing ride on home roads as he gets ready for Tour of Britain rollout

Team Ineos’ Ben Swift says taking to the Tour of Britain start line in the national champion’s jersey is going to make the next week ‘extra special’.

The 31-year-old, who is following in cousin Connor’s footsteps by racing the Tour as national champ, is part of a strong-looking Ineos squad which also includes a former winner in Dylan van Baarle.

With Pavel Sivakov, who emerged with a strong ride at this year’s Giro d’Italia, Eddie Dunbar, Gianni Moscon, Mihal Golas also in the line-up, it’s fair to say Ineos has plenty of options.

And speaking before the Tour rolls out of Glasgow today, Swift said the road will decide the hierarchy of the team as the race winds its way across Scotland and the north of England.

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He said: “We’ve got a few cards to play. We’ve got a really strong team that covers a lot of bases.

“The road will decide the order of the team. Having a strong team across the board will be beneficial for us for sure.”

It’s been an eventful last 12 months for Swift.

In February, he was admitted to intensive care after a crash on a training ride with teammate Geraint Thomas in Tenerife left him with a torn spleen.

Less than four months later though he rode to victory in the national championship road race in Norwich.

Now Swift, who today signed a new deal to stay with Ineos until the end of 2021, can’t wait to show off his national jersey.

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He said: “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a special race for the British riders, racing in front of our home supporters on home roads. I’m sure the crowds will be amazing.

“Racing in the jersey will make it extra special. Every time I pull it on it creates an extra buzz. It’s something to really savour for me.”

This year, the race features a number of Grand Tour stage winners, former Tour of Britain stage and overall winners and it’s fair share of past yellow, pink and red jersey wearers.

And Swift believes the increasing quality of the field since the race returned to the calendar back in 2004 has meant riders, fans and the media now see it as an important fixture.

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He said: “The race has become really important now. I remember in my early years if you weren’t in the break, the race would be over.

“But people are taking it a lot more seriously now. It’s a great race – a hard race – and excellent preparation for the worlds too. It’s held in extremely high regard now.”

Swift thinks the local knowledge of the roads – and the unpredictable British weather – will stand the likes of him, Mark Cavendish and Steve Cummings in good stead.

He said: “You’ve got to be ready every single day. The weather can play a part – I’m sure it’ll throw up some surprises but it can be an advantage for us Brits because we’re all so used to it!

“Knowing the home roads can be an advantage.”

Today’s first stage takes the riders from the Grand Depart in Glasgow to Kirkcudbright.

For a full rundown of the stages, click here.

Main image courtesy of Team Ineos.

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