Sky’s Ben Swift hopes to ‘hang on’ for an eventual Amstel Gold sprint on Sunday. The Brit’s consistent performance could pay off in the Dutch one-day classic. He has already won three times this season, including a stage in the Basque Country last week, and placed third in Milan-San Remo.
“I’m not nervous, but comfortable and ready to go,” Swift told Cycling Weekly. “There’s no real pressure to be honest. Like in Milan-San Remo, where I was a late call up. I didn’t have the pressure to build up and to prepare for it. The same as Amstel, my biggest target was País Vasco last week. Now, I just hope to just carry that form through to this week.”
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Swift beat Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) to win in the Tour of the Basque Country last week. It marked his third win this season, a comeback of sorts after last year when he crashed and re-injured his left shoulder.
“Last year, was a bit of a nightmare and a year to forget,” Swift said. “The biggest thing for me was to get my consistency back, my confidence back. The main goal what I wanted was to come out strong at the start of the season and try to get a result early. I had a really good start to the season and I’ve been happy with how it’s going. Hopefully I’ll continue.”
Swift forms part of Sky’s three-pronged attack with Geraint Thomas and Edvald Boasson Hagen. The other two come off the cobbled classics campaign and raced in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.
“Having cards to play definitely helps. The guys that we have have different characteristics of racing, Geraint can cover the late moves and fight for himself. I can hang on as much as possible and see what happens,” Swift explained.
“We have a lot of options for how the race pans out, but I’ve had good form in the last couple of weeks and I’d like to get a good result.”
Swift last participated in the Amstel Gold Race in 2009 and raced a similar course, including the final Cauberg climb, at the 2012 World Championships. He rode part of the parcours on Friday and plans to train on parts of it again Saturday, the day before the race.
Swift also races the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, but will do so as a helper. Afterwards, he recovers and trains in Tuscany. He will possibly race the Tour of California with Bradley Wiggins. However, his aim is to return this summer and win stages in the Tour of Switzerland and the Vuelta a España.
“When I talked with the coaches this off-season, País Vasco was a target. I’ve been there before and came close to stage wins. Now I have one,” said Swift.
“The next one is the Tour of Switzerland, I’ve come close there, I’ve had second and third places. It’d be nice to go there and change one of those to a stage win. Then I’ll look to the Vuelta at the end of the season. First, though, I have Amstel on Sunday.”
Amstel Gold Race 2014: Route, teams, TV schedule, past winners and much more for Sunday's race