Lack of racing and team orders puts doubt on repeat podium finish at Italian Monument

Ben Swift is heading to Milan-San Remo hoping to rekindle some of the magic that brought him podium finishes in 2014 and 2016. However the Rotherham born rider is unsure of his form in what has been a stop-start season to date.

The UAE Team Emirates man had to pull out of Paris-Nice before stage six with blocked sinuses and a cold in what were unfavourable weather conditions.

“I think everyone was generally sick at Paris-Nice, our team only had one guy finish,” Swift said.

“When we were heading to the high mountains and with the weather predicted to be how it was, it was better to call it quits before the weekend because it is a hard enough race already.

“It’s a bit of a shame because I was looking forward to the last weekend and especially the last day but it is just how it is really.”

“I still got a lot of the work done and I’m feeling ok now so we’ll have to see what happens at the weekend.”

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Milan-San Remo is where Swift has had great success in his career with a second place finish in 2016 and a third place result behind current UAE Team Emirates team mate Alexander Kristoff in 2014. But the former Team Sky man is aware he may have to sacrifice his own ambitions for Kristoff’s gain.

“We all arrive later today and will have a chat to finalise the plan, but if it does come down to a sprint and Alex is there then we will pull for Alex.”

Ben Swift (left) second behind Arnaud Démare in 2016 Milan-San Remo (Watson)

Despite being unsure of his top end form due to the illness at Paris-Nice, Swift is approaching the first Monument of the season with an open mind.

“Before I would be trying to see the options on those final climbs and see what was happening. But I’ve just got to go in relaxed and enjoy it,” he said.

With his podium finishes proving his experience at ‘La Classicissima’, there is still hope that Swift will be there or thereabouts when the peloton reach the crunch point of the race.

“I know how to race the race and how to look after myself, with Milan-San Remo that is half the battle because it’s so long race. But you’ve also got to react to the moment, so we’ll have our cards to play.”