Ben Swift happy with Sky's Giro d'Italia start

"I actually felt really, really good – the best I’ve ever felt in a team time trial."

Ben Swift, Milan-San Remo 2014

Ben Swift managed a cheeky smile after the opening team time trial stage of the Giro d’Italia today in which Sky placed fifth.

The British outfit finished the 21.7km test 35 seconds adrift of winner Orica-GreenEdge that put Canadian Svein Tuft in the pink jersey.

Swift is targeting undulating sprint stages at the race he got a late call-up for and couldn’t hide a grin when asked about his form and upcoming chances after today’s performance he described as “pretty smooth”.

“I actually felt really, really good – the best I’ve ever felt in a team time trial,” the 26-year-old said.

“We weren’t the favourites for the day but we had a pretty well balanced team and sometimes that works out well. There was no overly strong guys, everyone was pretty smooth and, yeah, we just wanted to get around, have a good ride and look forward to the rest of the tour.”

Sky made significant changes to its Giro roster that was initially built around Australian Richie Porte and a general classification bid. Porte struggled with illness in the lead-up and his importance to Chris Froome’s Tour de France title defence, which may have been affected by a title assault, was also not lost.

Swift has shown form and an increased versatility this season finishing third at Milan-San Remo and celebrating victories at Coppi e Bartali and Vuelta Pais al Vasco, which bodes especially well for Giro stages that feature within the first two weeks of the race.

The next two in Northern Ireland and Ireland are flat though Swift, aware of German sprinter Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), is looking further ahead to capitalise on opportunities, which perhaps now he can be even more confident about.

“Obviously Kittel is the man to beat tomorrow,” he said ahead of stage two. “I’m going to give it a good go in the bunch sprints but I’m more looking forward to the hillier sort of day where we can get rid of Kittel hopefully.”

Changing conditions and rain had an impact on today’s team time trial though didn’t really trouble Sky.

“We never actually rode in the rain but the roads were slippy so that is sometimes a little bit worse because you don’t feel the wet as such,” Swift said. “But I think we looked after each other really well.”

Poor weather tomorrow, especially along the Causeway coast, may make for a more selective race that could work in Swift's favour.

Twitter: @SophieSmith86

Ben Swift in hunt for Giro d'Italia stage wins

British sprinter Ben Swift hoping to continue good form that saw him win a stage of Tour of the Basque

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1