Ben Swift (Team Sky) has targeted a stage in next year’s Vuelta as one of his biggest goals for the 2011 season. The 22-year-old was forced out of the race through illness this year with his entire team subsequently pulling a few days later due to the death of their popular soigneur, Txema Gonzalez.
Swift’s 2010 season was also plagued by minor injuries, with knee and back problems robbing him of his best form. However he took a stage victory and the overall classification in the Tour of Picardie, and sees the Vuelta as unfinished business.
“I want to get a win in the Vuelta,” Swift told Cyclingnews.
“ I’d like to target the sprinters jersey as well. With it being quite a lumpy race it can get rid of the lot sprinters and you can end up with a 40 man group. The type of situation where someone like Philippe Gilbert did so well in this year.”
Swift has immense respect for the Belgian classics rider, both on and off the bike.
“He’s definitely a rider I respect a hell of a lot and has a lot of the characteristics I admire. He can get over the climbs and he’s got a kick on him. I enjoy getting stuck in on the sprints, there’s no better adrenaline rush but for me to perform at my best it has to be from a smaller group.”
Swift’s talent at being able to get over moderate climbs while many of his sprint rivals suffer mean he can compensate for any short coming against the worlds best sprinters. Against the likes of Mark Cavendish, Tyler Farrar and Andre Greipel, he admits that he’s not quite in the same league.
“To beat them I’d have to have a lot of luck and it would need to be a perfect day and maybe they have a problem but if it was lumpier day then maybe. On sheer out and out speed I’ve got no chance against them.”
Swift will split his 2011 season into two segments: the first around the track world championships in the Netherlands at the end of March, while the second part on the road will focus on the Amgen Tour of California, the Tour of Poland and then the Vuelta.
The 23 year-old Yorkshireman will start his 2011 season, as he did in 2010, at the Tour Down Under as he builds up for the track.
“I’ve been training for a couple of weeks and I‘m looking forward to next year. It was really good to meet all the guys again at the recent Team Sky camp that we had but we also had a chance to go out on our bikes and clear a lot of things up for the coming year.
“I’ve got my programme now and we all know how we’re going to be selected for races, the general run of the team. The first year went so quickly and was so hectic, especially with the injuries I had but now everything is moving forward. I was in and out of fitness and lost a good chunk of the year.”