British sprinter Swift was one of the original riders in Sky’s line-up when they made their racing debut in 2010, but decided to switch squads for 2017 to seek new opportunities.
After the Tour Down Under, Swift says that he will then take part in the Abu Dhabi Tour, Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo, Tour of the Basque Country, the Ardennes Classics and the Tour de Romandie, adding he will then take “a little break”.
Swift was signed by the UAE Abu Dhabi team – formerly known as Lampre-Merida. He brought with him a solid tally of WorldTour points, largely thanks to his second place in the 2016 edition of Milan-San Remo.
The 29-year-old Rotherham rider’s runner-up spot behind Frenchman Arnaud Démare (FDJ) in last year’s San Remo marked his second appearance on the Monument’s podium, having placed third in 2014.
Swift’s move from Sky nearly ended in disaster. He was originally signed by the team under its name of TJ Sport, but the squad hit problems when money from Chinese backers failed to materialise – and the UCI did not name the team among those securing a WorldTour ride for 2017.
However, a last-minute deal with the United Arab Emirates saw the team saved and gave it its new name, and a WorldTour place was confirmed.
Former Sky team-mate Luke Rowe was quick to rib Swift about his Twitter announcement regarding his early-season calendar, saying “Brilliant, thanks Ben” and including a GIF of an audience giving a standing ovation.
Swift will race against former Sky team-mates – including Rowe – in the Tour Down Under which runs from January 17-22. He will have an early chance of grabbing a stage win and valuable WorldTour points.