Katusha release Briton, Track Worlds first major objective
With the question of Ben Swift's team for 2010 answered at the Team Sky presentation in London on Monday, the 22-year-old is now firmly focussed on his second season as a professional.
Swift became the 26th and final member of the new British team, however his inclusion in the ProTour squad had been the subject of conjecture throughout December with a year left to run on his contract with Katusha.
"There was a lot of rumour swirling about and I'm just happy it's all been sorted out so I can focus on the season ahead," Swift told Cyclingnews.
His new team principal Dave Brailsford explained to Cyclingnews that Sky had reached an agreement with Katusha at the end of last month to release Swift from the final year of his deal with the Russian team.
"I can't speak highly enough of [Katusha manager] Andrei Tchmil and his professionalism," said Brailsford. "I have a lot of respect for him; the whole thing was resolved amicably and now: off we go with Ben."
Swift explained that eleventh hour move to Sky will allow him to focus on his major early season objective, the Track World Championships in Denmark, in March. The former British academy rider formed part of his nation's successful team pursuit squad at the Manchester round of the track World Cup last year and will aim for success on the boards of Copenhagen prior to what he hopes will be a year of improvement on the road.
"[Being with Sky means] the Track Worlds will be my first major objective, before I concentrate the rest of the season on the road," he said. "After the Worlds, my goal will be to step it up a level. I'm only in my second year as a professional, but I'm hoping for consistency and a few more wins."
Swift claimed his maiden professional victory at the 2009 Tour of Britain and his first Grand Tour start at the Giro d'Italia. After his neo-pro season, Swift says he has been able to establish a profile of the types of races that are likely to become objectives in future seasons.
"I want to do Amstel [Gold race] again, I think that's a race that could do well in a few years from now," he said. "Pays Basque is another I'll be racing – lumpy sorts of races that come down to a sprint in the end; I think those really suit my strengths."
Swift will miss the Team Sky's inaugural training camp in Valencia, Spain, this week to travel to Australia, where he will race the Tour Down Under for the first time in his career. While his racing calendar throughout January and February will be geared towards the Track Worlds, he is looking forward to taking part in what will be the first race for Team Sky.
"The goal will be to perform well as a team at the race. CJ [Chris Sutton] and Greg [Henderson] are riding really strongly already, so we'll aim to support them as best we can and hopefully get the season off to a good start."
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