Ben Swift (Team Ineos) may have been disappointed to lose stage 5 of the Tour de Pologne, but it was tempered by the fact that his third place in an uphill bunch sprint netted enough bonus seconds to hold a strong position in the overall classification.
Swift says he views the GC in Pologne as a possible option, rather than a definite target, but it's certainly one that he's not willing to rule out for now.
The 31-year-old is looking at Pologne, too, as part of a longterm building strategy to be in top form at the UCI Road World Championships this September in Yorkshire.
"It's definitely a possibility. It's going to be hard to try and challenge for GC, but why not?" Swift told Cyclingnews after stage 5.
Swift says he is one of several GC options for Ineos in Pologne. He won two stages back in 2012, one in Zakopane, which is where the stage starts on Friday. But the Worlds, where he claimed fifth in 2017 in Bergen, is on his mid-term list of objectives as well.
"This is my first race back after a long block away, my biggest target is the World Championships," Swift explained to Cyclingnews.
"So if I've got [Tour de Pologne] in line with what I did in [Tour de Romandie], then my next race in Germany, I can be what I was like in [Tour of Norway]. Then at the Tour of Britain, hopefully, I can be what I was like in the Tour de Suisse.
"Then the week after [at the World Championships] it'll have worked out pretty well. It's all about progressing towards that."
Team Ineos contributed to Swift's third place on stage 5 at the Tour de Pologne by forming a compact line at the head of the peloton in the final kilometre. They kept the pace steady and used a late attack by Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Davide Formolo (Bora-hansgrohe) to their advantage. It was only when Luka Mezgec (Mitcheltton-Scott) and Movistar's Eduard Prades blasted past Swift in the closing metres that things went awry.
"I tried waiting as long as I could, maybe I went one or two gears a bit too heavy," Swift recognised. "But the Astana attack actually helped us. We could really use him to come back to and focus on. It was a hard uphill, slightly into a headwind and it was all about going as late as possible."
Swift emphasised that he had invaluable team support, with teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart, who also has GC options in Pologne, notably working hard as a lead-out man in the final kilometre.
"It was amazing," Swift concluded, "Tao was really strong there, so we'll keep trying."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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