Swift change to flight plan in rainbow jersey bid

Launch of the Tour of Yorkshire Cycle Route at the Bridlington Spa with Ben Swift. (Picture: Simon Hulme)
Launch of the Tour of Yorkshire Cycle Route at the Bridlington Spa with Ben Swift. (Picture: Simon Hulme)
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A change to his schedule which brings a return to the Tour of California next month, means Ben Swift can give himself a leg up in his bid for the rainbow jersey.

The 27-year-old from Rotherham is targeting the world championship road race in Richmond, Virginia, in September as his major goal for the year.

Initially, he thought he would have to go into a race in which he finished 12th last year in Spain, with no prior knowledge of the course.

But now he hopes to make the most of his chances by doing a reconnaissance ride in May.

“On the way home from California I’ll stop off in Richmond and have a look at the circuit”, said Swift, who won a world title on the track in 2012.

“At the start I wasn’t going to do California, so now I am it makes sense, it’s an extra couple of days on the way home.

“It’s a thousand metres less climbing than last year and I think the overall climbs aren’t as long. It’s going to be a different from last year. I did well in Ponferrada but there’s always room for improvement.

“It will help to have a look at it and it’s a great goal to have for the end of the year.”

Swift’s growing reputation would be cemented by a strong showing in September’s world road race, with only two Britons having won the rainbow jersey - Doncaster’s Tommy Simpson in 1965 and Mark Cavendish four years ago.

“If you were to be world champion you’d be a happy man when you retire.” said Swift.

“The gold I won on the track on the track is a little different, it has a similar sort of meaning, but if you were world champion on the road that would be career defining.

“It’s such a special jersey, and such a special race - but you can’t really comment until you’ve won it.”

Before the Tour of California from May 10-17, Swift is one of the headline acts at the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire, which begins in Bridlington on Friday, May 1.