“I sat down with the sports director and we went through the race programme I’d be doing. Then he mentioned the Tour and just kind of slipped it into normal conversation,” said Connor Swift, who has just been selected to race his first Tour de France.
“It was like ‘then you ride the Tour’ and I was like ‘oh bloody hell’.”
The 24-year-old’s rise to the biggest bike race in the world has been rapid, as just over a year ago he was racing for British Continental team Madison Genesis.
But after securing an unexpected victory in the 2018 British National Championships against WorldTour pros, Swift suddenly caught a lot of attention.
Mid-way through 2019 he was given the call-up from French ProTeam Arkéa, who drafted him to bolster André Greipel’s lead-out.
While Greipel’s time with the team was short-lived, Swift thrived at the pro level in 2019.
Then in 2020, the squad signed Nairo Quintana in the hopes of carrying home the yellow jersey in the Tour de France and suddenly Swift found himself with a double Grand Tour winner on his wheel.
The Yorkshireman told Cycling Weekly: “I haven’t even done a full professional cycling year yet.
“If you said to me at the beginning of 2019 I’d be riding the Tour de France and I’d be team-mates with Quintana – it’s crazy how things unfold.”
The Tour de France will only be Swift’s fifth WorldTour race he pointed out, after RideLondon and the Hamburg Cyclassics last year, and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Paris-Nice in 2020.
Swift said he was first given a hint that he might be included in the Arkéa Tour squad after the 2020 Paris-Nice, just before racing was suspended due to coronavirus.
After putting in a shift in the crosswinds to protect Quintana during the race, the team gave him the hint he could make the long list.
Then after performing well in the Tour de L’Occitanie after racing restarted, Swift was given his space alongside Quintana, Warren Barguil and Winner Anacona for the Tour.
He added: “I’ve dreamt of wanting to ride this race.
“Especially during Covid everyone’s wanting to race because they don’t know if there’s going to be a season after it.
“It’s just massive to even get a place there.”