Ben Swift (Team Sky) was left frustrated by a mistimed sprint as he finished 13th at the end of a thrilling edition of Milan-San Remo, won by John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin).
The Yorkshireman, who finished third last year, was amongst the bunch of 26 riders that made it to the Via Roma together after 293km of riding, however couldn’t navigate his way to the front as the German pipped last year’s winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge).
“I chose the wrong side to go up, I had to start my sprint quite early and then I just got blocked, which was quite frustrating after what the day was and all the effort I put in,” Swift told Cycling Weekly after the race.
“The legs were fine, I just chose the wrong side.”
Team Sky had earlier set the race alight when Swift, Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe chipped off the peloton on the descent of the Capo Berta when Salvatore Puccio crashed behind them on the moist roads with around 40km to race.
The trio pressed ahead but were caught on the climb of the Cipressa. Thomas later latched onto a move by BMC’s Daniel Oss but was reeled in near the summit of the final climb, the Poggio, with 5km to go.
“It wasn’t planned [the attack], there were issues in the peloton and that’s just how it happened,” Swift explained.
“It’s a difficult situation to know how to manage that stuff, do you commit full on, do you wait, do you hold back?
“It was definitely better to ride a little bit, not fully press on but just maintain it going into the Cipressa, there was no point in sitting up and waiting.”
Swift added that he was disappointed not to earn a better result after such strong riding throughout the day.
“It was a great showing, I think the team rode fantastically, but it would have been nicer to get a result,” he said.
“I’ll still chip away at it, and hopefully I’ve got a few more years left!”
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Richard Abraham is an award-winning writer, based in New Zealand. He has reported from major sporting events including the Tour de France and Olympic Games, and is also a part-time travel guide who has delivered luxury cycle tours and events across Europe. In 2019 he was awarded Writer of the Year at the PPA Awards.
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