Ben Swift outduels Fred Wright to win men's British road race

Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers) defended his British national title, winning the men’s elite road race ahead of Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) after a ferocious final sprint on Michaelgate.

The chief animator of the race, Swift first attacked as early as the third lap, which though initially unsuccessful, left him in prime position to force a split on the third ascent of Michaelgate. This breakaway, in a slightly different constitution to its original form, made its way to the finish.

Behind, Wright had to settle for second place, and first place in the U23 category, while a late turn of speed by Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) ensured that he took the bronze medal.

“I’m over the moon,” Swift said at the finish. “I’ve become used to wearing this jersey. Unfortunately we didn’t get to race last year so I got another year for free and hopefully today I justified that extra year. It was an incredible day. I think my form…I’ve had a bit of an up-and-down year. I’ve had some real highlights - I had my second child, Harry, but in terms of personal results it just didn’t go that well at the start of the year. It started to come together now and to finish it off like this. I’m really happy.

“In nationals you have to race from the front. I first went away with Ben Turner on lap three and I thought it would be a long day. I came back but as soon as you keep moving off the front, we had a really nice group with six others early doors. The guys were riding a bit too hard. We knew that Dan Bigham and Harry Tanfield were really strong but they put them out that back and it was like ‘ease off and use them as much as you can’. Harry was incredible today, he was absolutely flying and definitely kept the groups away," continued Swift.

“It was always going to be difficult with just two of us, but luckily I’ve worked with Ethan [Hayter] quite a lot this year - I’ve seen how talented he is, what a year he’s had and what an outstanding career he’s going to have in the future. It was nice to keep this one of his shoulders - I know he had the other two. Having a teammate like Ethan who is by far the strongest guy in the race and my experience, we worked well together. 

"It was just riding from the front and once I knew that Ethan was coming across at the end, I could play that card and say I’m not going to work because Ethan’s coming. I knew that Fred was at the side of me and we were toe-to-toe. It was just first to that corner and luckily I got it.”

How it unfolded

The opening lap was marked by a series of probing accelerations rather than attacks as each rider sought to conserve his energy while maintaining position towards the front of the peloton.

A small crash on the approach to the first ascent of Michaelgate underscored the importance of positioning but the peloton tackled the climb at a largely sedate pace, except for an attack by Lewis Askey (Equipe Cycliste Continentale Groupama-FDJ).

He was later joined by a group of riders including Dan Bigham (Ribble Weldtide Pro Cycling) but their endeavours initially only succeeded in stringing out the peloton. Bigham’s second attack, in which he was joined by Sam Watson (Team Inspired), broke the elastic and this duo built up an advantage of a minute.

They remained out front while, at the beginning of the third lap, Ben Swift and Ben Turner (TRINITY Racing) broke away too and dangled between the peloton and front group. At the back of the peloton, meanwhile, Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) had an unfortunately-timed mechanical just before Michaelgate and found himself out of position for the climb.

On the third ascent of Michaelgate, Swift and Turner were caught, but Swift continued to set a high pace to force the creation of a small group containing Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ), Harry Tanfield (Qhubeka-NextHash), Dan McLay (Arkea-Samsic). They bridged across to Bigham and Watson, forming a sextet at the front of the race.

Behind them, the peloton fractured twice on the next two laps and, though none of the pre-race favourites seemed to be caught out, these two groups came back together again. Only Michaelgate seemed able split the race and, through the avenue of cheers and cowbells, Hayter floated away from the peloton, latching onto the breakaway with a languid ease. 

Askey, Wright and Connor Swift (Arkea-Samsic) rode across more conventionally, measuring their effort over a couple of kilometres. James Shaw (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling) and Sean Flynn (SEG Racing Academy) also eventually joined the front after a lap-and-a-half long chase, while Bigham and Stewart were both dropped.

This breakaway continued without much incident until the ninth ascent of Michaelgate when Connor Swift accelerated. He was countered by McLay, his teammate, over the top of the climb, who escaped with Wright, Tanfield and Ben Swift in what became the race-winning move. 

By the time the front group entered the 11th lap of the race, about 38km from the finish, the gap had ballooned to 50 seconds, marooning Hayter and Connor Swift in the group behind, unable to counter the move of their respective teammates.

This group was then joined by Alexandar Richardson (Alpecin-Fenix) and this configuration remained until the penultimate ascent of Michaelgate when the pace in the front group proved too high for McLay. In the second group, Hayter tentatively attacked on the climb too, dropping everyone except Askey and this pair began to close in on the front of the race. 

Knowing that he would be unable to match Wright and Swift in the sprint, Tanfield repeatedly attacked on the final lap but was closely marked. As the leading trio entered the bottom of the final climb, they slowed, playing cat-and-mouse with one another, while behind Hayter and Askey thundered ever closer.

On the final uphill sprint Wright and Swift charged up Michaelgate side-by-side, until Swift finally edged ahead and took the title.

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Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ben Swift (GBr) Team Ineos Grenadiers
2Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain-Victorious
3Ethan Hayter (GBr) Team Ineos Grenadiers
4Harry Tanfield (GBr) Team Qhubeka Nexthash
5Lewis Askey (GBr) Equipe Cycliste Continentale G...
6Alexandar Richardson (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix
7Daniel Mclay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
8Leo Hayter (GBr) Development Team DSM
9James Shaw (GBr) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
10Samuel Watson (GBr) Team Inspired
11Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
12Sean Flynn (GBr) SEG Racing Academy
13Gruffudd Lewis (GBr) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
14Jacob Scott (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
15Josh Whitehead (GBr) SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling
16Jim Brown (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
17Ben Granger (GBr) Zappi Racing Team
18Ross Lamb (GBr) SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling
19Alex Peters (GBr) SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling
20Charlie Tanfield (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
21Oscar Onley (GBr) Development Team DSM
22Alistair Slater (GBr) Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy
23Cameron Orr (GBr) Team Inspired
24Ben Turner (GBr) TRINITY Road Racing
25Oliver Rees (GBr) TRINITY Road Racing
26Owain Roberts (GBr) Wales Racing Academy
27Matthew Kingston (GBr) Zappi Racing Team
28Thomas Gloag (GBr) TRINITY Road Racing
29Cameron Mason (GBr) TRINITY Road Racing
30Charlie Quarterman (GBr) TREK - SEGAFREDO
31Henry Lawton (GBr) AG2R Citroen U23 Team
32Isaac Mundy (GBr) Richardsons Trek DAS
33Thomas Armstrong (GBr) ELECTRO HIPER EUROPA
34Zak Coleman (GBr) Acrog-Tormans
35Alfred George (GBr) Team Inspired
36Joseph Laverick (GBr) Axeon Hagens Berman CT
37David Hird (GBr) Halesowen A & CC Academy
38Callum Macleod (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
39Matthew Bostock (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
40Maximilian Stedman (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
41Steve Lampier (GBr) Saint Piran
DNFJohn Archibald (GBr) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
DNFJoshua Avery (GBr) Brother U.K - Cycle Team OnFor...
DNFToby Barnes (GBr) Crimson Orientation Marketing ...
DNFSamuel Beckett (GBr) Wales Racing Academy
DNFJames Bentley (GBr) Team PB Performance
DNFCameron Biddle (GBr) StolenGoat Race Team
DNFDaniel Bigham (GBr) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
DNFWilliam Bjergfelt (GBr) SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling
DNFSam Brand (GBr) Team Novo Nordisk
DNFFrazier Carr (GBr) Spirit Bontrager BSS Rotor
DNFMichael Chadwick (GBr) Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy
DNFJames Chapman (GBr) Team PB Performance
DNFMark Christian (GBr) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
DNFDamien Clayton (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
DNFMatthew Clements (GBr) Kuwait Pro Cycling Team
DNFPeter Cocker (GBr) Richardsons Trek DAS
DNFAsh Coning (GBr) Tavfer Measindot Mortágua
DNFFinn Crockett (GBr) Wheelbase CabTech Castelli
DNFJack Crook (GBr) Dolan Ellesse Race Team
DNFTobias Dahlhaus (GBr) Foran CCC
DNFScott Davies (GBr) Bahrain-Victorious
DNFTristan Davies (GBr) Saint Piran
DNFMatti Dobbins (GBr) RT23
DNFRobert Donaldson (GBr) Team Inspired
DNFOwain Doull MBE (GBr) Team Ineos Grenadiers
DNFMatthew Downie (GBr) TAAP Cervelo
DNFMatthew Ellis (GBr) Saint Piran
DNFIwan Evans (GBr) Saint Piran
DNFWilliam Foster (GBr) JRC-Shutt-Ridley Race Team
DNFGary Freeman (GBr) Orwell Velo
DNFJack Freeman (GBr) Meudon Pedal Heaven Le Col RT
DNFSebastian Garry (GBr) Nopinz Motip Race Team
DNFMatthew Gibson (GBr) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
DNFMichael Gill (GBr) Saint Piran Development
DNFJoe Hill (GBr) UpShift Nutrition Race Team
DNFRoss Holland (GBr) Saint Piran
DNFMatthew Holmes (GBr) Lotto Soudal
DNFJoe Holt (GBr) Wales Racing Academy
DNFOliver Hucks (GBr) Nopinz Motip Race Team
DNFOscar Hutchings (GBr) Team Tor 2000 Kalas
DNFToby Jarvis (GBr) Team PB Performance
DNFJames Jobber (GBr) Kuwait Pro Cycling Team
DNFGeorge Kimber (GBr) Spirit Bontrager BSS Rotor
DNFMatthew King (GBr) Team PB Performance
DNFOliver Knight (GBr) AVC Aix en Provence
DNFZeb Kyffin (GBr) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
DNFMatthew Lock (GBr) TAAP Cervelo
DNFEuan Macleod (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
DNFHarley Matthews (GBr) DAP Cycling Club
DNFOliver Maxwell (GBr) Saint Piran
DNFTom Mazzone (GBr) Saint Piran
DNFDaniel McDermott (GBr)
DNFConor McGoldrick (GBr) Primera-TeamJobs
DNFTom Merry (GBr) Vanelli-Project Go
DNFOliver Moors (GBr)
DNFTheodor Obholzer (GBr) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
DNFCharles Page (GBr) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
DNFJordan Peacock (GBr) Spirit Bontrager BSS Rotor
DNFOliver Peckover (GBr) SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling
DNFWilliam Perrett (GBr) Spellman - Dublin Port Track T...
DNFNeil Phillips (GBr) TEKKERZ CC
DNFWilliam Roberts (GBr) Wales Racing Academy
DNFWilliam Scott (GBr) Richardsons Trek DAS
DNFRobert Scott (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
DNFDaniel Shoobridge (GBr) Nopinz Motip Race Team
DNFNathan Smith (GBr) Team Novo Nordisk Development
DNFJake Stewart (GBr) GROUPAMA - FDJ
DNFBradley Symonds (GBr) Saint Piran
DNFWilliam Tidball (GBr) Team Inspired
DNFRichard Todd (GBr) TRINITY Road Racing
DNFTimothy Torrie (GBr) TBW23 Stuart Hall Cycling
DNFWilliam Truelove (GBr) Wales Racing Academy
DNFDaniel Tulett (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
DNFNicholas Tyrie (GBr) Primera-TeamJobs
DNFJoey Walker (GBr) Crimson Orientation Marketing ...
DNFChristopher Walkinshaw (GBr) Team PB Performance
DNFMatthew Walls (GBr) BORA - Hansgrohe
DNFDean Watson (GBr) Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy
DNFJoe Wilson (GBr) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
DNFGeorge Wood (GBr) Cycling Sheffield
DNFReece Wood (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
DNFOliver Wood (GBr) Canyon DHB Sungod
DNSSamuel Asker (GBr) Richardsons Trek DAS
DNSTobias Bartlett (GBr) Velo Club Lincoln
DNSRhys Britton (GBr) Team Inspired
DNSWilliam Brown (GBr) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
DNSLewis Bulley (GBr) Indulek-Doltcini-Derito Cyclin...
DNSTom Couzens (GBr) Spirit Bontrager BSS Rotor
DNSGabriel Cullaigh (GBr) Movistar Team
DNSSam Culverwell (GBr) TRINITY Road Racing
DNSClay Davies (GBr) Spirit Bontrager BSS Rotor
DNSAlex Dowsett (GBr) Team Katusha- Alpecin
DNSAlex Haines (GBr) GSC BLAGNAC VS 31
DNSWilliam Harper (GBr) SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling
DNSAngus Hawkins (GBr) Spirit Bontrager BSS Rotor
DNSJosh Housley (GBr) Spirit Bontrager BSS Rotor
DNSCameron Jeffers (GBr) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
DNSChristopher Latham (GBr) SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling
DNSChristopher Lawless (GBr) Total Direct Energie
DNSTimothy Lynch (GBr) London Dynamo
DNSFraser Martin (GBr) Wheelbase CabTech Castelli
DNSRobert Orr (GBr) EuroCyclingTrips - CMI Pro Cyc...
DNSIsaac Peatfield (GBr) Crimson Orientation Marketing ...
DNSToby Perry (GBr) Equipo La Tova – Asesoria Al...
DNSTom Portsmouth (GBr) Carbonbike Discar Academy
DNSMax Rushby (GBr) Team Inspired
DNSOliver Stockwell (GBr) Team Inspired
DNSMatthew Taylor (GBr) Cycling Sheffield
DNSTosh Teare (GBr) TRINITY Road Racing
DNSEthan Vernon (GBr) Team Inspired
DNSCharles Walker (GBr) Spirit Bontrager BSS Rotor
DNSStephen Williams (GBr) Bahrain-Victorious
DNSSimon Wilson (GBr) Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling
DNSHarrison Wood (GBr) SEG Racing Academy
DNSJenson Young (GBr) Saint Piran
DNSXeno Young (GBr) Creuse Oxygène Gueret

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Issy Ronald has just graduated from the London School of Economics where she studied for an undergraduate and masters degree in History and International Relations. Since doing an internship at Procycling magazine, she has written reports for races like the Tour of Britain, Bretagne Classic and World Championships, as well as news items, recaps of the general classification at the Grand Tours and some features for Cyclingnews. Away from cycling, she enjoys reading, attempting to bake, going to the theatre and watching a probably unhealthy amount of live sport.

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