Ben Swift will ride the Hammer Series in Hong Kong and then the Tour of Guangxi in China, hoping that any late-season success will help him secure a contract for 2019 after UAE Team Emirates opted not to retain the services of the Yorkshireman.
Swift struggled with injury in 2017 in his first season with UAE Team Emirates and then fractured a vertebra in his back during this year’s Tour of Flanders. He has been trying to find his best form ever since. He missed the Tour de France and rode the Tour of Britain with Great Britain. He was only a reserve for the final block of racing but got the call and so has been mixing some late training with the search for a new team.
Like many riders, Swift is a victim of the budget and roster cuts in the professional peloton that has left a number of talented riders desperately searching for a contract for 2019 as the current season ends.
“I’m still on the market. I’m speaking to a couple of teams. It’s been a strange year but I’m hopeful, though I know that things need to fall into place,” Swift told Cyclingnews before he travelled to Hong Kong.
“I know I’ve not shown what I’m capable of in the last two years. It wasn’t a risk joining UAE Team Emirates. I was at a moment in my career when I wanted to see if I could be better than up to that point. I got that opportunity to play my own cards thanks to UAE Team Emirates.
“It didn’t work out for one reason or another but if I look back, my training numbers were as solid as ever and I felt good in races but things never really went my way, I was always lacking that last little bit needed to win.”
Swift has been a professional since 2009 and will turn 31 on November 5. His ability to survive on the climbs and his fast finish has helped him win 13 races. He was also second behind Arnaud Démare at the 2016 Milan-San Remo and was third in 2014. Swift spent seven years at Team Sky between 2010 and 2016. His last victory was in 2015, with the British team.
“I don’t think people have forgotten what I’ve done in the past,” Swift claimed. “I’ve also shown glimpses of what I’m capable of doing by finishing fifth at the World Championships in Bergen last year and at the Criterium du Dauphine when I broke away with Pete Kennaugh and finished second even though the finish was at L’Alpe d’Huez.
“This year was worse than ever, I know that. As soon as I got some good condition, I had big problems. It’s always hard to get back on form after illness and injury. But I’ve got no regrets about my decision to take a new opportunity with UAE Team Emirates.”
Swift is a skilled sprinter but is ready to evolve into a lead-out and sprint domestique role if needed.
“I really want to get back to where I think I deserve to be. That may mean change to my role in the future and dropping more into a lead-out or domestique role and then taking the opportunities when they come,” he admitted.
“I’ve still got the motivation and passion to train hard and race hard. Even struggling to find a team has fired me up.”