Britain?s Ben Swift made a successful professional debut with the Barloworld team at the tough GP Camaiore in Tuscany on Thursday, finishing in the main peloton.
The 19 year-old from Sheffield is a stagiaire with the British-registered team until the end of the season, and will also ride the Giro del Lazio near Rome on Saturday and three other one-day races in northern Italy next week.
Swift rode the Italian race with former Academy team mate and now Barloworld team mate Geraint Thomas. The Welshman is still recovering from the efforts of finishing the Tour de France, and after working on the flat for the team he retired. Swift was determined to finish and dug deep on the climb of Monte Pitoro covered six times in the final half of the 193km race.
?It was hard but it?s very satisfying to have finished my first professional race,? Swift told Cycling Weekly.
?Pro racing is very different to racing with the amateurs in Italy. The speed on the first climb was okay and the tactics are similar but later on it got really fast. It was really hard on the last two climbs but I was determined to finish my first race. We were a bit off the back but I?m proud I made it.?
Swift was praised for his determination by Barloworld directeur sportif Alberto Volpi and thanked for working for team leader Kanstantsin Siutsou who finished third.
The race was won by Italy?s Fortunato Baliani (Panaria). He got clear with four other riders on the final climb and they contested the sprint 34 seconds ahead of the front group lead in by 20006 Milan-San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato. Gabriele Bosisio (Tenax) lead out the sprint and thought he had done enough to win by Baliani passed him just before the line and stole the glory.
The Italian peloton now heads to Rome for Saturday?s Giro del Lazio and both Swift and Thomas will ride the hilly race.