Team Sky sprinter shows class in his first La Classicissima
Ben Swift was shivering as he spoke to journalists after climbing on the Milan-San Remo podium with Alexander Kristoff but his heart was warmed by the satisfaction of finishing third in his first ever edition of La Classicissima.
The Team Sky rider suffered with a shoulder injury in 2013 and ended his season in August to undergo surgery and hopefully get his career back on track. After a hard winter of training, including a spell in South Africa, he proved he was back to his best in the Challenge Mallorca and the Tour of Oman.
He did not ride Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico but secured a place on Team Sky's squad for Milan-San Remo because his sprinting skills and ability to handle the climbs makes him an ideal rider for La Classicissima.
"I think my happiness is overshadowing how cold I am," Swift said.
Swift and Team Sky now believe the 26-year-old Yorkshire man can one day win Milan-San Remo.
“I'd like to hope so, I think Milan-San Remo is suited to my characteristics," he said.
"It's the first time I've ever ridden Milan-San Remo and get that first experience. To get on the podium on the first is pretty amazing."
Swift rode an intelligent race and then fought for a good wheel in the finale. He followed Fabian Cancellara in the final kilometre but struggled to find a way through to the front and was unable to open up his sprint until the finish line was in sight.
"I had good legs today and just felt better and better as the race went on," he explained.
"On the Poggio I waited for the attacks to come but I think the weather got to a lot of people and we were over the top before we realised. I was fourth over the top and maintained it to the finish."
"I got a little bit boxed in for the sprint but I'm happy to get on the podium. It was a great team effort. Me and Eddie (Boasson Hagen) talked a lot coming into the finale and so we had a clear plan. Puccio was amazing. He committed. He had good legs but he committed to helping me and Edvald. He helped bring Nibali back and then set the tempo on the Poggio."
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