Ben Swift has decided to step out of the British team pursuit squad and instead concentrate on selection for the Olympic road race.
Swift didn’t make the final line-up at the London World Cup in February or the World Championships in Melbourne earlier this month, and so has decided to look elsewhere to fulfil his Olympic ambitions.
“I gave it my best shot,” he told Cycling Weekly from his home on the Isle of Man. “We decided straight from the off that we’d see how it goes at the World Cup and then reassess, and then see how it goes at the Worlds and then reassess again.”
“I don’t think there’s much more I could have done. Now it’s a case of giving myself enough time to try and get selected for the road team.”
Swift was the sixth rider training for the team pursuit, taking time out of his road programme with Team Sky since last November when the pursuiters went into a boot camp regime in Manchester.
“We’re down to five,” men’s endurance coach Dan Hunt confirmed yesterday. “As we knew that Swift was unlikely to make the Olympic team [we wanted him to pull out]. We didn’t want to carry on going down a road that was blocked because he has other strings to his bow.”
“Not taking away anything from him as a team pursuiter, I believe he could comfortably step in to the Australian line up as man four, it’s just that there’s five others who’ve just got the edge on him.”
“By pulling him out early enough should give him the chance to get selected for other events where he can make a difference.”
Swift’s failure to make the team pursuit line-up was all the more surprising considering how well he was going in Melbourne. After he cheered his team mates on to win the world title in a world record time, he got up on the track and won the scratch race title.
A few days later he narrowly missed out to Cameron Meyer in the points race, taking silver, then partnered Geraint Thomas to another silver in the Madison on the final night.
“I was disappointed not to ride [the team pursuit], but then again it gave me the opportunity to ride the races I’ve always loved, it’s nice to go out on a bit of a high.”
One of the factors that drove the riders on in training was the competition for places. Through the winter there were seven riders with Olympic Academy rider Sam Harrison joining Swift, Thomas, Ed Clancy, Andy Tennant, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh, now there are five.
“I didn’t want to go to five too early so that competition for places still existed. It would be nice to have six still fighting for the places but its not fair to take Swifty down that road just to provide competition for others,” said Hunt.
Swift will start the Giro d’Italia next Saturday with several of his old Olympic Academy team mates. Then he plans to ride the Tour of Switzerland, national championship road race and the Tour of Poland as his Olympic build up.