In the Milan-San Remo chaos today, a shot of black emerged under the Italian Sun in the form Sky’s Ben Swift. His last-minute charge was enough to overtake many along Via Roma, but not Frenchman Arnaud Démare (FDJ). After third in 2014, he placed second.
In the sun-soaked Ligurian seaside town, Swift followed up his team’s work and avoided the crash of Fernando Gaviria (Etixx–QuickStep) to record his highest ever place in a monument.
>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
“I was third in 2014, 13th last year and second year,” Swift said. “Obviously to get second is one of the worst places to get because you’re so close to victory. But I’m kind of happy. I’m second to Arnaud Démare who’s a brilliant sprinter. I think this shows that it’s a race for me, with the results I’ve had in this race so hopefully I’ve got a few more years to keep trying.”
The 28-year-old from England has raced Milan-San Remo three times already.
“I have to say Milan-San Remo, it’s where I’ve had my best results and best suited to my characteristics,” continued Swift.
“It’s a good race. Obviously, it’s always disappointing not to get the win but I think in the end after 300 kilometres we’ve got to be happy with how the race went. There’s not much more I could have done there.”
Sky covered every angle but lacked a bit of extra punch when a crash took out Geraint Thomas and Pete Kennaugh. Kennaugh returned, but Thomas took more time to re-start his race.
Ian Stannard followed an attack with Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and the two rode alone from the Cipressa to the Poggio. Former World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski attacked near the top of the Poggio and escaped solo until an express train led by Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) passed him in the final two kilometres.
“We knew that we didn’t have the favourites for the race so we wanted to make it an aggressive race. Geraint Thomas crashed out so that cost us a lot of firepower and unfortunately Pete Kennaugh crashed as well, so it wasn’t as aggressive as we would have liked it to have been but we were aggressive where we needed to be,” Swift added.
“We had a super-strong team. Michal Kwiatkowski did a brilliant job there in the final, he put a lot of pressure on the guys to chase. I just tried to stay as relaxed as possible coming into that finish. Yeah, it is what it is.”
In 2014, Swift placed third behind winner Alexander Kristoff and Fabian Cancellara
“I think it’s a harder feeling really than in 2014. At the moment, I kind of feel… not flat, but not overjoyed, because second place is perhaps one of the worst places you can finish. But I’m happy to be back on the podium,” Swift added.
“Everything was perfect. I stayed as hidden as possible, I didn’t do anything. I think the only time you’d have seen me was in the last 200 metres, which was what I wanted. I played it really calm in the finish. Last year I was really nervous and I wasted a lot of energy and I paid for that.”