National Championships - Rising star Connor Swift confident of retaining his title

Connor Swift’s reign as national road race champion draws to a conclusion in Norfolk tomorrow – unless he can stage another upset.

British National Road Race champion Connor Swift: Defends his title.

Twelve months ago, the 23-year-old from Doncaster shook up British cycling by breaking away to a solo success in the HSBC British Road Race Championships in Northumberland.

He returns to the race a lot stronger proposition, though, having worn the national jersey at the world championships last September before switching teams from the British Continental ranks of Madison Genesis, to French Pro-Continental team Arkea-Samsic.

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“I’ll be going into this year’s nationals in a lot better place,” admitted Swift, who is confident of repeating the trick around the Sandringham Estate tomorrow.

“It’s going to be a flat course. Most of the time with the nationals, people expect a bunch sprint but, as so often happens, a select group of 10 to 15 get away.

“If you can get in that group then anything can happen, as we saw last year.”

Another good performance this week could earn Swift a late call into the Arkea-Samsic team for the Tour de France, which begins in Brussels next Saturday.

Swift believes it is a long shot, given he has only been with the team a little over a month, but he has been signed as part of the lead-out train for Andre Greipel, one of the most respected sprinters in the elite peloton.

“Andre Greipel is wanting to strengthen his leadout train and was in talks with my agent for 2020,” said Swift of the origins of his move to the French second-tier team.

“Andre influenced me coming on board with immediate effect, which was pretty nice. He said he saw my potential at the Tour of Britain last year. It’s quite nice to have been seen by him.

“It’s a step up to pro-continental level and it’s where I want to be at this stage of my career.”

Former champions Mark Cavendish and Adam Blythe of Sheffield are also in the field.

In the absence of four-time champion Lizzie Deignan, Hannah Barnes is the only former winner of the women’s race. Look out for Sheffield’s Lizzy Banks building on a fine season while Bradford’s Abby-Mae Parkinson is a contender in the Under-23s classification.