ROTHERHAM'S Ben Swift began the Tour Down Under this morning confident an intense winter of training will help him pinch a mountain stage in Australia.
The 23-year-old plays the supporting role of 'domestique' to the more established names at Team Sky and will be helping the likes of Greg Henderson, Simon Gerrans and Chris Sutton win the six-stage tour that began in the early hours in Adelaide.
But after a successful month at the team's December training camp in Majorca, followed by a strong performance in the Australian championships and a top-10 in the tour's prologue, Swift – a natural climber who has increased his speed in his first year with Sky – is confident of a flying start to 2011.
"I'm feeling much fresher than last year because I've had such a solid winter this time around." said Swift, who will also play a prominent role in the British track team this year. "The Majorca camp last month really helped me get back into the swing of things.
"This year I'll be looking to do a lot of work in the lead-outs and supporting the guys who are chasing the general classification. That's definitely my main role, but if I can get over the climbs in the latter stages and no-one else is there, I might also get the chance for a win as well."
Lance Armstrong races for the Radioshack team while Mark Cavendish leads the HTC challenge.
* Swift finished 64th on the first stage of the Tour Down Under that was won by HTC's Matt Goss.