Team Sky’s Ben Swift leads the Settimana Coppi e Bartali after Thursday’s opening day.
Fresh from placing third in Milan-San Remo on Sunday, the 26-year-old from Rotherham claimed victory in a sprint finish at the end of the 99.5-kilometre opening stage.
It was Swift’s first victory since the Tour of Poland in July 2012 and gave the Briton the overall lead ahead of Thursday afternoon’s team time-trial, which Team Sky won to consolidate Swift’s lead. Team-mate Peter Kennaugh sits second overall, six seconds behind Swift. The race finishes on Sunday.
Swift’s success can only be good news for his chances of making Team Sky’s Tour de France team later this year.
With the Tour all set for a Yorkshire Grand Depart, Swift has already spoken of his ambition to take part in the race.
With yesterday marking 100 days to go until Leeds hosts the big race on July 5, excitement is building across the county. Gary Verity, CEO of Welcome to Yorkshire, who were instrumental in bringing the Tour to Yorkshire is also hoping there will be success for another ‘local’.
“The first stage is designed for a sprinter to win and clearly Mark Cavendish is the greatest sprinter in the history of the Tour and his mum is from Harrogate, so if you like the romance he would be your favourite to win,” he said.