Ben Swift and the Great Britain under 23 men?s academy team ended the Giro delle Regioni stage race on as high on Tuesday with an impressive stage victory on the final day.
Swift was caught close to the finish on both stage one and stage four but bounced back to beat the best under 23 riders in the world on stage six around Artena, south of Rome. He timed his sprint perfectly to beat Simone Ponzi (Italia B) and Vitaly Buts (Ukraine) after a late attack was swept up 700 metres from the end of the 130km stage and after an excellent lead out from team mate Ian Stannard.
?Winning the stage was a perfect end to a good week of racing,? Swift told cyclingweekly.co.uk.
?I thought fourth place in the Giro della Liberazione last week would be the high point but things just got better and better.?
Swift crashed heavily during the stage but got back up and fought to get back in the bunch in time to contest the sprint.
?I went down on a slippy corner with four laps (60km) to go and had a dead leg. I went out of the back with a lap to go but then managed to get back on and moved up near the finish. It was a slightly uphill finish and there was some fighting for position but I was at the front. I got boxed-in a little in the final kilometre but then Ian (Stannard) came up to the front, I fought to get on his wheel and then he dropped me off at 200 metres to go.?
Swift also won the climber?s competition to show that he is currently one of the most impressive all round riders in men?s under 23 racing.
Spectators and other teams at the race were amazed that Swift won the sprint while wearing the grey climber?s competition leader?s jersey but directer sportif Rod Ellingworth proudly explained that Swift can climb, sprint and also ride successfully on the track.
The six-day Giro delle Regioni was won by Rui Costa (Portugal) just three seconds ahead of Dennis Van Winden (Holland) and Gasper Svab (Slovenia).
The Great Britain under 23 Olympic Academy team will ride the Coppa Citta’Di Asti on May 8 and then the tough Gran Premio Industrie Del Marmo in Tuscany on May 13.
Results – final stage
1 Ben Swift (Great Britain) km 130,5 in 3-13-48
2 Simone Ponzi (Italy B)
3 Vitaly Buts (Ukraine)
4 Herman Fouchk (South Africa)
5 Normunds Lasis (Latvia)
6 Thomas Vedel Kvist (Denmark)
7 Abdelkader Belmokhtar (UCI team)
8 Christoph Sokoll (Austria)
9 Maciej Bodnar (Poland)
10 Detlef Moerman (Belgium)
Overall classification: Giro delle Regioni
1 Rui Costa (Portugal) 19.38’33”
2 Dennis Van Winden (Netherlands) 3″
3 Gasper Svab (Slovenia) 3″
4 Alexandre Gottfried (Germany) 4″
5 Dimitri Claeys (Belgium) 4″
6 Francis Degreef (Belgium) 13″
7 Biel Kadri (France) 15″
8 Niki OStergaard (Denmark) 23″
9 Andrey Zeits (Khazakstan) 39″
10 Anton Reshetnikov (Russia) 50″