Ben Swift unsure of future with Team Sky

British rider may look elsewhere when his contract ends as team and personal targets move further apart

Photo: Graham Watson

Ben Swift is keeping an open mind this year as his ambitions and Team Sky’s GC objectives move further apart.

The 28-year-old kicked off his 2016 season at the Tour Down Under with an eye on stage success, but his best finish was second behind Simon Gerrans on stage four.

Swift — one of only five riders to have ridden for Sky since the team’s debut 2010 campaign — says he is “happy at the minute” with the team, but that he has observed a divergence in direction.

“In Sky we don’t really have that [lead-out train] anymore. The first couple of years we were all about that, but, quite rightly so, the team has become so dominant in stage racing that that’s very much second now,” Swift said.

No more Sky train

Abu Dhabi Tour - Stage 1

Best Swift riding in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Graham Watson
(Image credit: Watson)

Sky does foster sprinters in Swift, Giro d’Italia stage winner Elia Viviani and new signing Danny Van Poppel, but has become the stage race team of reference with three Tour de France victories among others in recent years. Where that leaves Swift beyond 2016 remains to be seen.

“I’m on my second year and there was an option with a third,” he said of his existing contract. “I need to speak with the team and see where we are at with that and what my options are.”

Nonethless, the team granted the versatile sprinter permission to stay at his South Africa winter base instead of travelling to the normally compulsory December team training camp in Majorca.

“I’ve been there [South Africa] for four years now so I know I can train pretty well there, instead of adding more travel days,” he said. “It’s perfect for what I need — six-seven kilometre climbs, it’s windy, bit of flat, good bit of sun, which you don’t get in Yorkshire or the Isle of Man

in November.”

Swift has identified the Tour de Yorkshire as an early-season objective after crashing out of the opening stage and injuring his shoulder last year.

“Generally, I just want to be consistent, have a good start and get some confidence back.

Milan-San Remo will definitely be back on the cards again but the cobbled Classics not so much. For me, it’s going back to the weeklong stage races that are lumpy,” he added.

“I enjoy the big bunch sprints but they’re not really my forte. It’s much better when there are 30-40 guys left.”

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Nick Bull is an NCTJ qualified journalist who has written for a range of titles, as well as being a freelance writer at Beat Media Group, which provides reports for the PA Media wire which is circulated to the likes of the BBC and Eurosport. His work at Cycling Weekly predominantly dealt with professional cycling, and he now holds a role as PR & Digital Manager at SweetSpot Group, which organises the Tour of Britain.