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Ben Swift is poised for the next two difficult days in the under-23 Thuringen-Rundfahrt stage race in Germany.

The British Academy rider took sixth place in the sprint at the end of the 167-kilometre second stage in Bad Blakenburg.

He lies seventh overall, 39 seconds behind the German Stefan Schafer, who won the opening stage.

Today?s (Thursday) 133-kilometre third stage in Masserberg is likely to force a selection because there are seven categorised climbs and a hill-top finish.

Yesterday the British team rode strongly, with Alex Dowsett and Jonny McEvoy covering the early breaks. Dowsett got away for ten kilometres or so and won an intermediate sprint.

With 20 kilometres to go Pete Kennaugh got in a move with three other riders. On the final climb he attacked but was eventually caught by what remained of the bunch, including his team-mate, Swift.

Kennaugh then worked hard for Swift on the 14-kilometre run-in and set him up for the sprint.

Swift was fourth wheel with 200 metres to go but got moved into the barriers by the German Paul Voss, who eventually got second behind another German John Degenkolb. Swift ended up sixth.

British Cycling?s Academy coach Rod Ellingworth was pleased with the performance and believes today will show whether Swift or Kennaugh, who is also 39 seconds down overall, in 33rd place, can make a big impression overall.

?It?s one of those days where if they?ve got the legs, they?ll do really well. It?s a different style of racing here, more stop-starty, more like amateur racing than in Italy, where the under-23 racing is like the pros. It just winds up and winds up there. It?s taken them a couple of days to get used to it but it?s good to expose them to something different,? said Ellingworth.

Swift is in great form and is handily-placed. Ellingworth expects Schafer, the current leader, to slip back today as he struggled a bit on the hills yesterday.

?There could be a real shake-up today and hopefully we?ll have a few riders in the front group to take advantage.

?I?ve been really pleased with how the team has ridden as a team, they?ve really protected Swifty when it matters. Alex [Dowsett] and Jonny [McEvoy] were covering the breaks early on, working hard, it really takes the pressure off.?

Saturday?s time trial could be decisive. Swift was sixth in the time trial last year and yesterday?s stage covered a big section of the route that will be used.

Thuringen-Rundfahrt: overall after two stages

1. Stefan Schafer (Ger) LKT Team in 5-50-39

7. Ben Swift (GB) Great Britain at 39sec

33. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Great Britain same time

46. Jonny Bellis (GB) Great Britain at 1-19

74. Alex Dowsett (GB) Great Britain at 2-32

79. Mark McNally (GB) Great Britain at 2-35

85. Jonny McEvoy (GB) Great Britain at 3-13


Leda Cox defended her fifth place in the Tour de Prince Edward Island after finishing 35th in the bunch on Wednesday?s stage four. The race finishes today with a 50-kilometre criterium.


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