After a successful season on both the road and track, Katusha’s Ben Swift is looking forward to 2010. It's a year he hopes will build on a season that saw him take his first pro win and complete his first Grand Tour at the Giro d’Italia in May.
Swift won his first race at the Tour of Britain this year, as he finished first on a sprint stage into Yeovil. However, it was the Yorkshireman’s all-round abilities that have drawn praise from many quarters. He picked up a number of top-ten placings at May's Giro and most recently performed as part of Great Britain’s successful team pursuit squad at the World Cup in Manchester last weekend.
"This year has been an amazing experience. It sounds like a cliché but I really have been living the dream, as they say," Swift told Cyclingnews. "At he start of the year I just wanted to get as much experience as possible and go to as many different races as I could. If the results came, then great, but it was all about getting as much experience as I could."
Swift's 2009 season began at the Tour of Qatar in January, where he shared a room with team leader Filippo Pozzato. "He speaks a bit of English and I speak very little Italian, but it was good rooming with him at Qatar. It was strange and unreal being with someone of that class at my first pro race," said Swift, who along with Robbie McEwen, were the only English-speaking riders on the Russian team. "I spoke to Robbie quite a lot, and he was a great help. Unfortunately we didn’t get to race together as he was injured quite early on in the year."
His move to Katusha at the start of 2009 was a surprise to many, but Swift saw it as an opportunity to develop as a rider, away from the attention he may have received at other, smaller teams. "I was a stagiaire with Barloworld in 2007 and did a lot of races with Tinkoff, and obviously they noticed me. Max Sciandri was involved and played a part in my signing, but I was speaking to a few teams. Katusha were the only ones that put any money on the table straight away."
With one year left on his contract there has already been plenty of speculation linking Swift with a move to Sky for 2011, where he would team up with a whole host of British riders, including team pursuit and former Barloworld teammates Geraint Thomas and Stephen Cummings.
For now, Swift would prefer to brush the conjecture aside and focus on racing. Contracts, as he says, can wait. "I want to get a few more wins under my belt in things like Pais Vasco, where I had a few good results [this year] and I want to prove myself again in a Grand Tour, maybe not the Giro. I got in the top-ten a few times, but I want to back that up. Hopefully I’ll get more support. It’s obvious that everyone is talking about the transfer rumours, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ve got one more year then we’ll see."
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