The unlikeliest of Tour de France friends: Connor Swift and Nairo Quintana

The Brit is all smiles, having enjoyed the first week of his debut Tour de France

Nairo Quintana and Conor Swift at the 2020 Tour de France (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do you know what kind of ship never sinks?

A friendship.

2020, as a year, has been an odd one. Who could have predicted a global pandemic? Well, a bunch of scientists, actually. But who could have predicted Nairo Quintana and Connor Swift would have become the best of friends at the Tour de France? No one.

Of all the bad, terrible things that have happened this year, we deserve the blossoming bromance taking place at Arkéa-Samsic.

On stage seven, from Millau to Lavaur, Ineos forced the pace into the crosswinds in the closing kilometres, catching out Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) and Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo). Quintana was kept safe, though, in part thanks to the former British road race champion and the other domestiques on the French team.

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I mean, just watch this video and tell me you don't also start smiling. Pure. Unabashed. Wholesome. Friendship.

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"Nairo was still a bit nervous and stressed and he used me quite a bit during the whole stage really," Swift said a couple of days later, having completed the first week of racing at his first-ever Tour de France. "We just stayed well positioned in that top 20 and that takes the stress off of him as well. It was just a case of staying with him all day and moving him up when needed. He's still suffering in that group when it's strung out. So as long as you're near the front it's a lot better."

Having signed for ProTeam Arkéa-Samsic midway through last year, the arrival of a two-time Grand Tour winner in Quintana this January would have been an unexpected part of the Brit's career path.

"Yeah, it's crazy. Obviously I've watched the Tour in the past and he's up there for GC contenders who can take the yellow jersey," Swift said. "And it's crazy being his team-mate now and you know, working for him in a race. There are no other words. It's just crazy."

As for the 24-year-old's place within the team, the 2018 national road race champion is loving life, and having shown himself capable of marshalling Grand Tour contenders through hazardous stages, he has a bright future ahead.

"It's great. I enjoy this role. I've not got much experience in it so I'm just kind of winging it at the moment," Swift said. "And he's kind of directing me or asking me what to do. It's great, and the best result that he can get from this race is good for me, good for the team. It's just fantastic."

Jonny Long

Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.


Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).


I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.