Swift set for strong Norway block

24 May 2019

Swift set for strong Norway block

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Ben Swift was only a couple of days into his training block up in Tenerife back in mid-February when disaster struck. Rolling down Mount Teide at the start of a new day with Geraint Thomas alongside him, Swift clipped a rock on a descent and hit the ground hard.

His injuries were serious and numerous, including a bleed on the spleen and a broken hand. He would stay in hospital for a week and it would be five weeks before he was able to ride on the road again.

Yet as Swift checked in with TeamINEOS.com ahead of Hammer Stavanger and the Tour of Norway, he was typically upbeat. His return to action at the Tour de Romandie went better than expected and set him up for a strong training block in Mallorca. The Brit flew out to Norway direct from the Spanish island on Wednesday and is optimistic about where his form is at.

“This block has been really good actually,” explained Swift. “I’ve got all the work done I wanted to do. I feel like I’m getting back to the sort of level where I was before I crashed.

“Typically when I crashed I was coming into my best condition. Everything was going well after my start to the season but I feel like I’m near enough back to that. I’m looking forward to getting racing again now.”
His performance at Romandie, in support of team leader Thomas who came third overall, put a spring in Swift’s step. He was better than he expected he would be, which helped with his morale heading into his latest training efforts.

“I was pleasantly surprised in Romandie. I was going better even than I was hoping I would be. Since the crash I’d had a few niggles with my knees, and we found out I’d broken my hand, so I was a little unsure going into Romandie.

“Yes, I was missing that little bit to be competitive but with a race in the legs now and having done some focused work I’m feeling good.”
Ben Swift

Ben Swift

“If Romandie had been tougher it would have been tougher on my head. I’d have been questioning myself a little bit. But it gave me a big motivation boost.”
“If Romandie had been tougher it would have been tougher on my head. I’d have been questioning myself a little bit. But it gave me a big motivation boost. The race told me I wasn’t far away from where I had been before. That made it easier to do the hard work in Mallorca.”

It’s clear that Swift has been able to quickly recalibrate his goals for the year after coming to terms with the crash, aided by the support of coach Conor Taylor and physio Nathan Thomas.

“You can only look forwards. I had a lot of thinking time - I spent a week in hospital in Tenerife, and it was obviously quite a serious crash. I missed out on some of my important races for the year but I refocused, recalculated. We’re lucky to have a great background team with Conor, Nathan, and the team doctors. They all got me in the best shape possible and gave me a lot to think about.

“I’m looking forward to Norway first and foremost. I’ve had some nice experiences in Norway and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do. It will be six days of good, hard racing. Hopefully then I’ll be on to Tour de Suisse all being well, and I’ll be able to do a good job for the team there.”

Swift is also looking forward to the nationals, but he concedes that it may not be hard enough for him to challenge for the British jersey this year, with a sprinter-friendly course in Norfolk.

“To be honest I’d like a harder nationals. It’s pretty flat this year. That will actually make it a harder race because a lot of people will be in the mix and tactically it will be interesting. From there I’ll have to speak to the team about what the best plan of action is for the worlds in Yorkshire. Of course that suits me this year. We need to come up with the best plan of action for that.”

For now though, both Hammer Stavanger and the Tour of Norway are the only races Swift is thinking about.

“The Hammer Series will give me a bit of racing speed back and the edge you can’t get from training. It should set me up well for Norway. I’m looking forward to it.

“The way the Tour of Norway is, without a time trial or mountaintop finish, means it’ll be a proper race from stage one to six. It will depend on different racing scenarios but the way I’m feeling on the bike at the minute and the style of the race, I’m going there with ambitions to try and do the best result possible.”

And, after six up and down months back at the team that had been his home for so long, he’s gone to Norway with a smile on his face.

“As bad as it is having an injury like I just had, and such a scary crash, it makes you so thankful to be in a team like this. Within a matter of minutes I was being looked after and then the support I’ve had to get me back to this point, where I can go to Norway with ambition, is so good. Generally in myself I’m a lot happier, more content, and I think that shows in the racing and in my training.”