Swift hoping for successful return to racing at RideLondon

Ben Swift (Team Sky) hasn’t raced for three months, but he’s not letting that dampen his ambition of tasting victory at the RideLondon-Surrey Classic on Sunday.

Though he won a stage of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in March, the British rider’s season was derailed when he pulled out of the Vuelta al País Vasco due to fatigue and then crashed out on the opening day of the Tour de Yorkshire - a race based in his home region. That crash left him needing shoulder surgery but the recovery has gone smoothly and he is now looking to make up for the disappointment of last year’s RideLondon, where he was narrowly edged out in the sprint by Adam Blythe.

"It’s always disappointing to be beaten by such a thin margin, but if there was anyone I’d have taken to be beaten by last year, it would have been Adam because he’s a really good friend. I’d love to put that right this time around, but we’ll just have to see what happens. There are a lot of variables this year, and one-day racing is always hard to predict, but we’ll give it a good go," Swift told the Team Sky website.

"I’ll follow whatever the team instructions are for me, and we’ll discuss those between now and the start of the race. We’ve got a very strong team – one which is very sprint focused with CJ [Sutton], Elia [Viviani] and Andy [Fenn] all there with me – but I’ll certainly be looking to ride an aggressive race, and if the opportunity arises, I’ll obviously try and take it.

"I’m excited to get stuck in, and to see how I feel in that race environment after such a long spell on the sidelines. That’s always so hard to predict and I’m looking forward to seeing what the sensations are."

Swift’s fall at the Tour de Yorkshire was the latest in a string of shoulder injuries that have beset the 27-year-old’s career in recent years. He damaged his right shoulder at the 2012 Giro d’Italia and after surgery in the winter he re-injured it early in 2013, which forced him to cut short his season. This latest blow is the third time in a few years that he has gone under the knife on that shoulder.

"I think, like anyone, you go through the full range of emotions," he said. "Immediately after the crash you’re taking the seriousness of the situation on board, and only after that do you think to yourself ‘Oh no, not again’. That’s the worst stage - when the frustration creeps in because you can’t start your recovery straight away due to the pain.

"With a shoulder injury, you are able to get on the turbo relatively quickly though, and as soon as I got back on my bike I began looking forward and working hard on my recovery. I still had my bad days during that stage, it’s hard when you’re sat stationary for hours at a time, but you have to focus on the end goal of racing again in the peloton."

Nevertheless, the recovery has gone to plan and Swift feels happy with where he is now. A two-week team training camp in Sestrière earlier in July bolstered his confidence and now he can look ahead to racing and getting the most out of the latter portion of the season, starting with RideLondon and then the Tour of Denmark.

“Unfortunately, my injury was a serious one which needed immediate surgery, so I took a week to get over the operation and I’ve been gradually building my form ever since. I’m feeling fully fit now, with no pain or discomfort at all. My rehab has gone really well so we’ll just have to see what happens.

"With the course, the weather, and the mix of teams who have entered, it promises to be a really aggressive race, and that always makes it very hard to read tactically. Being consistently near the front in those types of situations is vital, and having only six riders per team also adds an extra dimension of unpredictability.

"You then have to factor in that they’ll be a huge variance in the condition of different riders. You’ve got some guys who’ll be flying after the Tour de France, and other who are tired. Some guys will be returning from mid-season breaks, and others like me who have been out through injury. It’s going to be such an open race, and that should make for an exciting one as well. We have a lot of options in our team and we’re definitely looking forward to it.

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