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"I've had five second places this year, all from reduced groups, and that's quite frustrating but in this next part of the season I've got some nice opportunities to try and get my first win."





21.04.2016 @ 21:58 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ben Swift is looking forward to rounding off a clean sweep of Ardennes Classics appearances at Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday, and is enjoying being back in action after a brief mid-season break.


Swift took time out after the Volta a Catalunya to freshen up after a busy start to the year, but impressed on his return to racing at the Amstel Gold Race last Sunday and played an equally-important role during La Fleche Wallonne.


The 28 year old has been using this famous trio of races to build his condition ahead of the Tour de Romandie, where he will be hoping to seal his first stage win of the season whilst riding in support of the team. caught up with 'Swifty' at the team's Ardennes base in Maastricht and spoke about ticking a race off his bucket list, climbing like a 'goat', and searching for that elusive first win of 2016.



"We just focus on getting as much rest and recovery as we can between the races and don't do much else really," he said about the Ardennes classics. "We go flat out and then try to stay off our feet as much as possible. That's been important for me; I didn't have much time to prepare for these races as it's my first block of racing after my break, that's why I'm riding in a support role. I've enjoyed them so far and think the Amstel Gold Race is one that could suit me in the future. For now it's just good to get back into that racing rhythm.



"I went into them pretty relaxed but obviously I am still required to do a job. Even finishing races like these isn't easy. As long as you're doing your job correctly they can be enjoyable though, and I'm especially looking forward to Liège-Bastogne-Liège - I've wanted to do it for a while. It's a Monument, it's one of the biggest one-day races in the world, and it will be nice to tick it off my bucket list."


Swift will be back all guns blazing at the Tour de Romandie next week.


"Before my break I was riding really well so I used that time off to refresh and take a breather," he said. "It's amazing how much condition you can lose in that time, but having these races in my legs will hopefully get me back to the level I was at in time for Romandie. I'm not expecting to be going as well as I was at Paris-Nice or the Volta a Catalunya, but hopefully I won't be far off. There are two stages that suit me so I'm hoping to challenge there. Other than that I'll be doing the best job I can for the team and working hard in the mountains.


Swift has made a conscious effort to work on his climbing this year.


"I think it has improved. I've always been able to climb fairly well, and I've had flashes of good results in the mountains, but at Paris-Nice and Catalunya I was climbing consistently well, which is something I've worked on. I've lost some weight and tried to fit into that role with an eye on races later in the season. I've got targets coming up where I need to improve and be better in the mountains," he said.


"I'm always going to struggle against pure sprinters like Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, Andre Griepel and Nacer Bouhanni, so it works hand in hand. If I can lose a bit of weight and perform better in the mountains, then I should be fresher for the more selective finishes. It's a role I'm looking forward to pursuing.


Swift got stage win at the 2011 Tour de Romandie.


"In fact I'm pretty sure the majority of the stages are pretty similar this time around, and the route for that stage is the same again. All being well, as it's the last day we'll have nothing to save ourselves for, so hopefully we can get stuck into it if we've had a good week. I don't think there's any pure sprint days as such, they're all likely to be reduced bunch days, but I know there are two stages that suit me. We'll just have to see what's happening with the race and I'll try and take my opportunities if they arise," he said.



"I'm working towards that more specific mountain role, losing a bit more weight, and heading back to the rider I was in the past, I suppose. Romandie was quite a late addition to my schedule, everything was pointing towards the Tour de Yorkshire, but having spoken to Rod [Ellingworth] and the team, they wanted me to go to Romandie to keep working on that new role with an eye on things later in the season. I used to perform really well on the mid-mountain stages that would end in a select group finish and this year I'm heading back down that route.


"I've had five second places this year, all from reduced groups, and that's quite frustrating but in this next part of the season I've got some nice opportunities to try and get my first win."



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