Ben Swift is hoping that losing weight and becoming a more efficient climber will help him turn a string of near misses into a more impressive victory haul.
“I've had five second places this year, all from reduced groups, and that's quite frustrating,” said the British rider, telling the Team Sky website about his desire to be fresher for the more selective finales.
Swift might not be on a par with the fastest sprinters in the world, but he has demonstrated with two podiums at Milan-San Remo that he can be up there at the end of an exacting day’s racing.
After San Remo, Swift rode the hilly Volta a Catalunya, where his climbing caught the eye of teammate Ian Boswell, who tweeted: “How about that @swiftybswift kid? 2nd in San Remo, and now climbing like a goat!”
“I've always been able to climb fairly well, and I've had flashes of good results in the mountains, but at Paris-Nice and Catalunya I was climbing consistently well, which is something I've worked on,” said Swift.
“I've lost some weight and tried to fit into that role with an eye on races later in the season. I've got targets coming up where I need to improve and be better in the mountains."
Swift, who is currently riding all three of the hilly Ardennes Classics, was set to go to the Tour de Yorkshire next week but a late change of plan has seen him included in Sky’s squad for the Tour of Romandie. He describes the renewed focus on climbing as a return to his roots, and he’s hoping it will bear fruit later in the season.
“I'm working towards that more specific mountain role, losing a bit more weight, and heading back to the rider I was in the past, I suppose,” he said. “I used to perform really well on the mid-mountain stages that would end in a select group finish and this year I'm heading back down that route.
“I'm always going to struggle against pure sprinters like Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, Andre Griepel and Nacer Bouhanni, so it works hand in hand. If I can lose a bit of weight and perform better in the mountains, then I should be fresher for the more selective finishes. It's a role I'm looking forward to pursuing.”