Could Ben Swift’s move to TJ Sport-Lampre pave the way for other Brits?

One of the founding British members of Team Sky, Swift is one of the few to leave the team to move to new opportunities at WorldTour level

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Ben Swift‘s decision to leave Team Sky after seven years for TJ Sport-Lampre in 2017 paves the way for other Brits to consider different teams.

Swift announced his move two weeks ago to join Italy’s long running team run by Italian Giuseppe Saronni. The team will become Chinese next year with new sponsor group TJ Sport. He is one of the few founding Brits from Sky, including Steve Cummings (Dimension Data), to leave in search of better opportunities. Swift said that “potentially” more could follow.

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“Most of the guys are still under contract for this year,” Swift told Cycling Weekly. “I am one of the founding members and I was part of the setup for a long time, and I know a lot of the guys. That was one of the reasons it’s been so hard for me to leave, it’s been my home for so long. It’s really stepping outside of your comfort zone.

“Maybe if I have a really good year next year, people will start to look [for other teams]. Sky, though, is really one of the best teams to be in, but I was presented with an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. I’m trying to see if I can be better than what I currently am, or if what I have now is the best I am.”

Swift spoke about those opportunities in this week’s Cycling Weekly magazine.

He began racing with Sky after a trainee period in Barloworld and one year with team Katusha. In Sky, he recorded a third and second place in Milan-San Remo. This year, still without a win, he racked up 92 WorldTour points placing second in stages of Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and the Tour Down Under.

Only Cummings and Swift made the move for better opportunities. Russell Downing and Josh Edmondson took a step down when they left. Mark Cavendish, however, joined as a star already and fit Sky in between other big teams.

“I’m stepping into a new environment, I have to find my feet. Fortunately in my career, I’ve been in different teams. I know what to expect, I know it’ll be different. I already know people there already, but for sure it’s a new environment. I’ve been in Sky for seven years with that atmosphere and that way of doing things. They will have their own way of doing stuff, and I’m looking forward to it,” Swift added.

“I don’t think there are really any small teams, you have different budgets and stuff, but you have all these teams performing at the top level. Sky is different and in it’s own league in some ways.

“With Lampre’s history, since 1991 or something, there’s such history and passion, just to tap into that experience. Giuseppe won some of the biggest races in the world, races I want to target as well. You get that really top level of knowledge about the bike races, and just a different outlook. It’ doesn’t affect me [that it’s not Sky], just as long as we are in the biggest races in the calendar.”

Swift indicated that other Brits may join TJ Sport-Lampre, but it depends on what happens with the teams looking for places in the WorldTour for 2017.