There was a sense of déjà vu for Ben Swift (Team Sky), as he was beaten in a sprint on home soil for the second race running. Swift was outgunned on The Mall by Adam Blythe (NFTO) at this weekend’s RideLondon, his first race in Britain since finishing runner-up at the National Championships in June.
Swift came into the race in good form, despite suffering a number of crashes at the Tour de Pologne earlier in the week. He was the favourite to take the honours as the five escapees dipped under Admiralty Arch, but Blythe got the jump and left Swift to race for second place. Despite missing out yet again, Swift was full of praise for his fellow Yorkshireman.
"I'm super happy for Adam. I've been racing with him since we were five or six-years-old and it's nice to share the podium with him," said Swift at the finish. "I was wary of Adam in the finish. I knew that he was perhaps the quickest rider. We got ourselves into the perfect position. I knew that he was following me and as soon as I looked forwards that's when he went. We just held the gap to the line."
Swift was part of an 11-man group that made it away in the last 50 kilometres of the race. Their numbers were slowly whittled down, with Philippe Gilbert (BMC) being particularly aggressive. The former world champion launched a number of attacks that saw several of the sprinters distanced. At one point, it looked like the Belgian would make it away with Julian Alaphilippe (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), but Swift and the two other remaining escapees dug deep to bring him back.
"It was tough trying to follow Gilbert on the little steep climbs. We knew it was coming so we knew what we had in store. It was a war of attrition out there today."
The arrival of Hurricane Bertha made for torrid weather conditions for the 147 riders who took the start line, with Swift likening their muddy appearance at the finish to that of mountain bike riders. Keen to keep Swift in position for a sprint finish, Sky did a lot of the work on the front. "I've got to thank the team 100% today. They were absolutely brilliant," said Swift.
Several of the Sky riders had to hotfoot it out of the UK and to the Netherlands, where the Eneco Tour starts on Monday. Swift will not ride the Eneco Tour or the Vuelta a España, however. His next race is likely to be the Vattenfall Cyclassics on August 24.