Ben Swift announced that he will leave Team Sky at the end of this season and join Project TJ Sport, the Chinese-registered WorldTour team that has yet to be officially named, through 2018. It's no secret that the British WorldTour team places a higher priority on Grand Tours than sprinting, and so Swift has decided to take his speed to the new project where it will be of greater value.
"It's a hard, hard decision leaving Sky," Swift said in an interview with The Guardian. "It's like leaving my family, but it's now or never if I want to see how good I can be. I don't really have anything to lose, and I'd like to publicly thank Sky for what they've done for me and British Cycling. It's going to be a culture change but I've been comfortable for the last seven years and I need to go outside my comfort zone.
"Most of the time, I would be second fiddle at Sky," Swift said. "When I have done my job for the team, then I get my opportunity. This team will be giving me more freedom and support. There will be various leaders, but they believe in my ability and I can have riders to support me."
Swift has been a member of Team Sky for seven season, first signing a contract with the team in 2010, after spending one season with Katusha.
His major successes include stage wins at Tour de Romandie, Tour Down Under, Tour of Poland and Pais Vasco, but he was also twice on the podium at Milan-San Remo: third in 2014 and second this year. Swift believes that he hasn't realized his full potential in the sprints yet, and that might not have happened at Team Sky because the team is formed around the likes of Tour de France winner Chris Froome.
Chinese company TJ Sport Consultation were announced as the new license holders of Italian team Lampre-Merida. The company replaces CGS Cycling as the holding agent to create China's first WorldTour team from the 2017 season onwards. A Chinese naming rights sponsor is to be announced. Swift believes that this is the place where he could tap into his full potential as a sprinter.
"My new team will have no out-and-out general classification rider which will open the door a bit. The chance of going there with some freedom would be nonexistent at Sky."