Ben Swift 'close' on contract with new team for 2019 season

Briton leaves UAE Team Emirates after a difficult two years

Ben Swift at the 2018 Tour de Suisse (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Ben Swift says he is close on a contract with a new team for next season, as he leaves UAE Team Emirates after two difficult years.

The 30-year-old refused to elaborate on who the new team might be, but said an announcement would be made soon.

Swift joined UAE at the start of 2017 after seven years at Team Sky, hoping to make the jump into an outright leadership role, but has struggled to get results through a mix of injury and mistakes. The Brit says he has nonetheless enjoyed his time with the Middle Eastern team, and that he has no regrets about joining the team when he did.

"I'm pretty close on a team, we're in the final discussions now, so hopefully there should be something announced in the next few days," Swift told Cycling Weekly at the Hammer Series in Hong Kong.

"I've enjoyed it [at UAE], it's been different. It was something I needed to do; it was a now or never moment in my career and I needed to try and see if I could be something better.

"It just didn't really work out. I accept that and going forward I just need to change my outlook a little bit, I still want to have success and do well, but also in a dual role as well.

Ben Swift of UAE Team Emirates (Sunada)

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Ben Swift  (Sunada)

"When I signed here I signed as and out and out leader, I'd have a bit of support. I think what I perform better in is working for the team and taking those opportunities when they come. I think I just put myself in a bit better position generally anyway by doing that."

Swift impressed with his versatility at Team Sky. His best results, a third and second place in Milan-San Remo in 2014 and 2016 respectively and a stunning stage victory in the Tour of the Basque Country, pushed his stock to its height, but he failed to translate that form with UAE.

His best performance since joining the team came at the World Championships in Bergen in 2017, where he placed fifth amongst a stacked field, as well as an impressive second place on the finish to Alpe d'Huez during that year's Critérium du Dauphiné.

Crashes in training and at the Tour of Flanders set Swift back with injury during the 2018 season, but despite being unable to secure any major results since returning, he has found a new team for next year. He races for the final time with UAE at this week's Tour of Guangxi,  but will play a bigger support role next year in his new team - a position he says works better for him.

"It's just been a bad year to be honest. Especially because once I got in really good condition there was always a problem, I started late this year on purpose and got in real good condition but I actually had a real bad crash in training and it just sets you back a little bit. And it always seems to be the case where I'd get better, be in top condition and something would happen - that's cycling.

"For whatever reason it didn't work out this year, I had my goals ambitions, I was supposed to go to the Giro but I broke my back in Flanders and I there is where I made the biggest mistake, I came back too fast and it just messed up the rest of the season really.

"Definitely results like [Milan-San Remo] mean that whatever team I'm in I get given those opportunities, but I'm not after a sole leadership role. I'm going to put something back into the team and help with the young guys in the team and then be given freedom in certain races that I know I can perform in."

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Richard Windsor

Follow on Twitter: @richwindy

Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.

An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).