Two Yorkshiremen at opposite ends of their careers have been handed a dream ticket to the biggest race of their lives.
National champion Ben Swift has been called into the six-man squad for the showpiece elite men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships on Sunday week, while Tom Pidcock will represent Great Britain in the Under-23s road race two days earlier.
For 31-year-old Swift, from Rotherham, the selection caps a remarkable year in which his career was nearly ended due to a ruptured spleen sustained in a crash in February, only for him to get back on his bike to win the British road race title he had long coveted at the end of June.
He joins the likes of 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas in a British squad that will tackle the gruelling 285km route from Leeds to Harrogate on Sunday, September 29.
“I’m thrilled to be selected to race in Yorkshire on my home roads,” said Swift before heading out on a training ride.
Owain Doull, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Ian Stannard and Adam Yates have also made final selection for the Great Britain Cycling Team.
If Swift is enjoying something of a renaissance, Pidcock, 20, from Leeds, is very much still building his reputation.
He is already a junior world cyclo-cross champion, and two years ago when Swift was finishing fifth in the elite road race at the world championships in Bergen, Pidcock was winning the junior men’s time-trial.
But his role in the men’s team for the Under-23s road race from Doncaster to Harrogate on Friday, September 27, is his first taste of road racing at the very highest level, and also comes after his own involvement in a recent crash threatened his participation.
Another Yorkshireman, Keith Lambert, British Cycling’s senior academy men’s endurance coach, said: “The under-23 squad have had mixed fortunes this season, with some terrific results but also some big crashes.
“What’s impressed me the most is that we have a strong group of under-23 road riders, either on the Senior Academy or on trade teams, and they always come together to work as a team and support each other when they’re riding in Great Britain colours.
“I’m pleased to say Tom Pidcock has recovered well from his injuries and as such we have been able to select him for the road race. Senior Academy riders Matt Walls and Fred Wright along with Stuart Balfour and Jake Stewart, have also been selected to ride, all of whom have impressed at big races this season.”
There is no place in the GB squad for Swift’s cousin Connor Swift or Sheffield’s Adam Blythe, the two men who preceded the Team Ineos rider as British champion.
Matt Brammeier, British Cycling’s elite men’s road coach, said: “We have such a talent pool of elite men’s road riders in this country that final selection was quite tricky even though the course is so challenging.
“National champion Ben Swift has really stepped up again this year and has come back to his best since his injury. I know he can’t wait to get racing in front of his home crowd, and I think having that support will really spur on the whole team.
“Looking at the time-trial, we have selected two very experienced time trial riders this year in Geraint and Alex Dowsett, both of whom suit the course and as such we can expect to see good performances from them both.”