The Giro d’Italia, back in 2009, was Swift’s first three-week stage race, and the then Katusha rider showed he could get into the thick of the action from the word go. On stage two to Trieste, he finished third behind Alessandro Petacchi and Mark Cavendish - for a first year pro, a seriously impressive result.
Since then Swift has raced the Vuelta twice and the Tour once, but in a five year career he has not returned to the Giro, until he found out in April that he would be back in the Italian Grand Tour. Racing the roads of Ireland represent another return to his younger riding days, too.
“I did the junior Tour of Ireland, so not a lot of experience racing here but to be honest the roads look a lot like the ones back home,” the Rotherham-born rider told Cyclingnews.
“It’s hard, heavy going roads, quite draining, the weather seems to be pretty much the same. So I should hopefully be all right here.”
Form-wise, after a very strong spring in which he took stages both in the Vuelta al País Vasco and in the Coppi e Bartali, as well as a third place in Milan - San Remo, Swift says he is “pretty much” firing on all cylinders.
“I’m coming off some good form in País Vasco, the Ardennes didn’t go so well but to be honest they weren’t really going to suit me. I’ve had a couple of good weeks of training and hopefully I’m still on an upward trajectory here, and although I love the big bunch sprints, I’m really going to target the ‘lumpier’ stages.”
Swift recalls the Giro d'Italia as being “manic."
"This year too, there are a lot of good sprinters here, but not so many of the absolute best ones, so that gives a lot of people the opportunity to take a win. And the racing’s that much harder as a result...although of course, it depends a lot on Marcel Kittel’s state of form. There could well be a lot of racing to finish second behind him!”
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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