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“For Ben, it depends on having one or two riders to help make sure that it comes back together but why not? He climbs very well, he is in good shape. Hopefully, he will be there or thereabouts.”


Photo: Sirotti






26.09.2014 @ 20:49 Posted by Emil Axelgaard, Ponferrada

Like many other teams, Great Britain goes into the World Championships road race with several cards to play. While Chris Froome and Pete Kennaugh may ride aggressively in the finale, team leader Dave Brailsford feels confident in Ben Swift’s chances on a race that he compares to Milan-Sanremo.


The course for the World Championships has been heavily discussed. Several sprinters fancy their chances of getting over the two climbs on the circuit but at the same time, several climbers and puncheurs aim at making the race hard.


With a short climb close to the finish and a fast descent to a flat finish, the course may be compared to the one that is used for Milan-Sanremo. Earlier this year Ben Swift finished third in that race, proving that he can both overcome the climbs and do a fast sprint after a long fast race.


Despite his great performances in hilly races, Swift has mostly been overlooked when the favourites for the race have been pointed out. Nonetheless, the Brit has prepared specifically for the race and showed great condition in the Tour of Britain where he both climbed strongly and sprinted to several top 10 results.


Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford is in charge of the British team for the Worlds in Florence and he is similarly optimistic on behalf of his sprinter.


“I think we have seen in today’s U23 race that it is difficult to call how the race is going to pan out on this course,” he told CyclingQuotes after the U23 race. “To me, it will be a little bit like a Milan-Sanremo type of finish where you have guys attacking on the final climb. Can they hang on over the top? That’s the big question.


“If it pans out like today, what a rider like Ben needs is the numbers to bring it back together. If there are one or two guys away, you need the riders to bring it back together for a sprint. Caleb Ewan just missed out because he didn’t have the guys to bring it back together when it really mattered.


“For Ben, it depends on having one or two riders to help make sure that it comes back together but why not? He climbs very well, he is in good shape. Hopefully, he will be there or thereabouts.”


Like most other teams, however, the Brits won’t focus fully on a sprint finish. With climbers like Chris Froome, Peter Kennaugh and the Yates brothers also on the roster, the team is prepared for all scenarios.


“It’s the type of course where there are different riders for different opportunities,” he said. “We have Chris Froome, Pete Kennaugh is in great shape and Ben obviously as well. We have a good group that’s got quite a lot of opportunities. We will play it by ear and hopefully make it a hard race because that’s what everybody else wants.”


Froome isn’t perfectly suited to the course in Ponferrada but goes into the race as a dark horse. He finished the Vuelta strongly and Brailsford is confident that he has recovered well.


“His form was coming up by the end,” he said. “Now he has had some time to absorb all that work. I hope he will be in good shape here.”


While the Worlds may not suit him fully, Froome will have a lot better chance in Il Lombardia which is usually a race for climbers. Last year he planned to do the race but a back injury made him withdraw from the race at short notice. This year he may finally line up for the autumn classics.


“Possibly,” Brailsford said when asked about the Italian race. “We will see how he goes here. We wouldn’t rule him out of Lombardy yet. We wouldn’t rule him in either but it’s a big possibility.”


Team Sky haven’t made their plans for the 2015 season yet. A few days ago, they got a suggestion from one of their rivals as Oleg Tinkov asked Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador and Froome to do all three grand tours.


Brailsford doesn’t embrace Tinkov’s idea and makes it clear that Sky will make their own planning.


“I think we will sit down and do our own planning at our own time and make our own decisions,” he said. “We’ll finish this year first and then we’ll think about next year.”



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