Ben Swift (Great Britain) sprinted to arguably the best result of his season with fifth place in the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen. The ride capped a well-rounded performance from the British team, who had Peter Kennaugh on the attack and several of their younger riders providing cover and support.
It was Swift who posted the best result, coming home just behind Matteo Trentin in fourth as Peter Sagan, Alexander Kristoff and Michael Matthews completed the podium.
"It's perhaps one of my best results this year. We had a really good team and I was really happy with the way that we rode and how well we gelled," Swift told Cyclingnews at the finish.
"We've got a young team here and looking forward to future World Championships, if we can take this team forward as well as we did today, I think it will be really good."
The final kilometres saw several nations try and disrupt the sprinters' flow. Kennaugh launched a move on Salmon Hill and Swift countered with his own acceleration inside the final five kilometres. When the lead group swelled to 26 riders and entered the final 1,000m, Swift fought his way through but was unable to match the fastest riders still present.
"It was quite messy. No one really knows what was going on because there were a couple of guys off the front and there were ones and twos going away. I did a couple of moves to try and catch people napping but it kept on coming back. It only came back together in the last 600m and I did the best sprint I could but against those guys it was difficult."
"I was a bit boxed in but then came out of it. It was every man for himself at the finish."
It has been somewhat of a difficult season for Swift, who had made the switch from Team Sky to UAE Team Emirates last winter. His best result before Bergen was second to Kennaugh, coincidently, on a stage to Alpe d'Huez during the Dauphine.
"Fifth in the Worlds… it's a big one day so I can still be competitive in these big races with better condition."
For Kennaugh, who follows Swift out of Team Sky in a matter of weeks, it was a solid team performance. Owain Doull, Jonathan Dibben, Adam Blythe worked during the first half of the race, while Scott Thwaites, Mark Christian and Tao Geoghegan Hart picked up the baton later on.
"It probably didn't look anything exciting for the most part of the race just because it was such a slow wearing-down process," Kennaugh said.
"It was an amazing ride from Swift, we've been putting in some hard training on the Isle of Man over the last couple of weeks. I had a plan going into the race. I wanted to have a go on the last climb – and I did. But my legs just cramped. I don't know whether it was missing a Grand Tour this year or what. But I didn't have the depth. I felt reasonably good at the bottom. The muscles just locked."
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