Ben Swift’s hopes of victory in his home race disappeared when he crashed heavily on his shoulder on the opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire and had to abandon. Sky directeur sportif Rod Ellingworth was unable to confirm the nature of Swift’s injury but said his first impression was that the Yorkshireman had dislocated it.
The incident happened as Team Sky were chasing hard on the front of the bunch soon after the Grosmont climb with 50km remaining. Soon after breakaway Tim Declercq (Topsport-Vlaanderen) had skated through a rain-dampened corner, Boswell and Swift went down in almost the same place.
“We heard that the first guy in the break went down and straight away I had a gut feeling,” said Ellingworth. “I knew our guys were on the front chasing the break. I don’t know whether it was Boswell or Swifty who fell first. Boswell waited for Swifty, but Ben knew straight away that he was down and out.”
Ellingworth explained: “Ben was like, ‘This isn’t good, it doesn’t feel good.’ First impressions were that it looked he’d dislocated it, but I don’t know. I’ve tried to call the doctor and haven’t been able to get through to him. All I can say is that he couldn’t really move it.”
Despite the loss of Swift, Sky stuck with their game plan of riding aggressively, their pace splitting the bunch and eventually leaving them with two riders in the winning five-man break. The tactic paid off with victory for Lars-Petter Nordhaug. It was Sky’s 21st of the season.
“Today just goes to show the highs and lows you get in cycling,” said Ellingworth. “We said from the beginning that if we lose Swifty then Lars is the guy, so it’s worked out fine in the end for Team Sky, but it’s sad for Ben.
“It’s his home race and he was well up for it. We’d done a recce of all of these stages, and I can even remember coming down that little descent and he said, ‘Some of these are a bit dicey, if it was raining…’ So it wasn’t like he didn’t know it. It’s just unfortunate, isn’t it? A bit of bad luck.”