Despite continued uncertainty over the future of his team, Ben Swift has told Cyclingnews that he has faith that the TJ Sport project will go ahead in 2017.
The team were originally set to be part of the WorldTour ranks but problems surrounding their Chinese funding saw them miss the initial deadline with the UCI. That prompted speculation that the team could fold before they had even turned a pedal in anger. However, last week Cyclingnews revealed that the team management had secured funds from the Middle East, and that although the squad would have a reduced budget of around 8-9 million Euros, they would still take a slot in the WorldTour. That still remains uncertain with the UCI yet to make an official announcement. One had been scheduled for December 15.
"I texted the team the other day once we heard that things were moving forward because I wanted to know about stuff," Swift told Cyclingnews.
"The team said it would let us know soon but that they were waiting for the right protocol from the sponsors before they released information. To be honest I'm in the dark as much as everyone else is. I've only read what's in the press and I'm hoping that they've only kept us in the dark because they've been working away."
Swift was one of the high profile signings made by the team, having ridden for Team Sky since 2010. The 29-year-old picked up his new Colnago bike in Italy last week and had a medical with his new team, which has at least given him some faith that the team is moving in the right direction.
"I knew it was going to be a different set up to Sky where you're given a lot of information and you understand what's happening," he said.
"So I'm hoping that the limited contact is because they're working away. I'm putting my faith in them that it's all going to come. The team is confident. I was in Italy last week and picked up my bike. I had all my medical and as far I know I'm letting them get on it with. They said that they were waiting on information on the UCI. I don't know if when I've been speaking to them it's been a bit lost in translation. I've not really pushed it but my understanding is that we'll be WorldTour and it's going to be going ahead as first planned, just with a different backer. I've got my bike. I just don't know if it will stay in the same colours."
Had the team fallen apart during the winter Swift, like the rest of his teammates, would have been left without a contract for next season. The British rider amassed a sizable chunk of WorldTour points in 2016 and would have found a place on another team, but he admits that his real focus over the last few months has been centred on training.
"The way I saw it, it was out of my hands. All I could do was train. I was training really hard, kept my head down and just had faith that they would sort it out.
"Obviously, my agent, Andrew McQuaid and I were talking quite regularly and if the worst happened then there were a few things working away in the background. Luckily I've got a few WorldTour points, whether useful at this stage in the season or not but it wasn't something that I was looking to worry about. I was just focusing on the things that I could manage and that was training."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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