Swift sprints to landmark victory

Team Sky cyclist Ben Swift
Team Sky cyclist Ben Swift
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Ben Swift claimed one of the biggest victories of his career yesterday when he outsprinted a top field on stage five of the Tour of the Basque Country.

The 26-year-old from Rotherham showed his ability in the mountains to keep pace with general classification riders, before leading a breakaway of 23 riders over the line.

The Team Sky rider held off Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michal Kwiatkoswki (Omega Pharma Quick-Step) to capture his second win of the year and first at WorldTour level since 2012.

“Looking around it was pretty weird to be in that company,” admitted Swift, who also left the likes of Alberto Contador in his wake. “I felt pretty good and I’m really happy I could take the win.

“Movistar really ripped it on the second cat-three climb. That’s what got rid of most people and the pace was actually to my limit on the final two climbs. But then Valverde stuck it in the big ring and went and I thought here we go!

“But it turned out okay. Only three guys went and I think everybody was a bit on the limit at that point.

“Looking at the profiles I saw three opportunities for wins in the race depending on how they were raced. Today was a bit of a ‘maybe’ but it worked out great.”

Sports director Dan Frost added: “It was not a stage we’d have expected Ben to win – more the other two where he was second and fourth. So that just makes it all the more special and I’d say this is probably the biggest victory of his career.”

The victory further enhances Swift’s claims on a starting jersey for this year’s Tour de France, which begins in Yorkshire on July 5.