Ben Swift: ‘Laying in intensive care, coming back is the last thing on your mind’

The British national champion will lead the squad in the elite men’s road race at Yorkshire 2019 World Championships

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ben Swift has reflected on his undulating fortunes as he is set to lead the men’s road race team at the Yorkshire 2019 World Championships.

The Yorkshireman has been resurgent this season, winning the British National Championships and being selected for the home team in the Worlds.

But earlier this year, the Yorkshire World Championships were far from Swift’s mind as he was in intensive care in Tenerife after an awful training crash.

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The 31-year-old said: “When you’re laying there in intensive care you never really know, coming back is one of the last things on your mind, but once you start to recover and you’re awake a bit more it’s the only thing you want to do.

“Once you’re outside of that danger zone, it’s all about getting fit first, and once I started going well again then it was a big focus on this World Championships.”

Swift had been training in Tenerife with Geraint Thomas, who will be riding in a support role on Sunday (September 29), when he clipped a rock on a descent and went down hard.

He suffered bleeding from the spleen, which required immediate treatment.

Swift, from Rotherham, made a full recovery and has been back to his best, winning the British national title in June and riding aggressively through week-long stage races in the build-up the Worlds.

On his British championship win, Swift said: “That was really special.

“I’d been through a lot of stuff in the last couple of years. I’d tried something new with UAE [Team Emirates] and it hadn’t really worked out.

“To get the British Nationals, something I’ve been chasing for a long time, it was a nice moment.”

Swift spent seven years with Team Sky early in his career, before he made the switch to UAE in 2017.

But after struggling for results, he returned join Sky, now Team Ineos, at the start of 2019 and has found his form once more.

He will benefit from the support of a Team Ineos-heavy British squad in the men’s road race, including Thomas, Ian Stannard, Tao Geoghegan Hart, and Owain Doull, with Adam Yates rounding out the team.

“Last year I was in a bit of a bad place,” Swift said.

“I didn’t know if it was the end of my career, or if I was going to go back to race in Britain or what.

“Now I’ve just got a new two-year deal and I’m actually in a really happy place. My home life is really good, my professional life is really good, barring the injury, which is a recurring theme in my career, it’s perhaps been my best year.”

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On his chances for the race, Swift said: “I’ve always gone well in hard one-dayers.

“We’re by no means the out-and-out favourites, but we’re the home nation and we’ve got a lot of strong riders in the team.

“Hopefully, we can just fly under the radar a bit and get the best result possible.

“Obviously we want to win. To get that jersey would be amazing, but if you got a podium you’d be really happy.”

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