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"It was an opportunity that I couldn't say no to. TJ Sport came with the best opportunities and deal, and they wanted to sign me as a leader."

Photo: Sirotti


05.11.2016 @ 13:42 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Ben Swift has spoken with Cyclingnews about his decision to put an end to his seven season stint with Team Sky to join TJ Sport, formerly known as Lampre-Merida, for 2017.


"Stepping away from Team Sky is a big change, but it was an opportunity that I couldn't say no to," he told Cyclingnews. "To be honest, my contract was up for renewal, and I wanted to see what options I had floating around out there. TJ Sport came with the best opportunities and deal, and they wanted to sign me as a leader. I want to take that next step, and although I've had a fantastic seven years at Team Sky, I am very limited in what I can do there."


Swift says Team Sky’s way of racing made it difficult for him to target a specific stage of a WorldTour race. the only race Swift was truly leader each year was Milan-Sanremo, where he podiumed twice.


"At TJ Sport we've got a team with a lot of guys who can lead, but at Team Sky my role was becoming more and more second fiddle, and especially on days where I could perform. I can't fault the opportunities that I was given, but it was becoming harder. It was hard to look in a race book at a one-week race and mark down stages I wanted to target. If it was a mountain top finish the day before then I'd be working, and it meant I just couldn't compete to my best ability. Team Sky is the best stage racing team but, for me, it was time to move on and take those opportunities again."


For Swift, the lack of a similar rider at TJ Sport really appealed to him. He points out sprinter Sacha Modolo is faster than him and Diego Ulissi climbs better than he does, but there is no one who can do what the Brit can.


"The more I thought about it the more I thought that the opportunity at TJ Sport was the best one for me. There are not many guys who are the exact same as me, who can sprint a bit, go well in the mountains and target the harder days. We obviously have someone like Sacha Modolo and guys like Diego Ulissi but at Dimension Data you've got someone like Edvald Boasson Hagen who is very similar to me. I had to ask myself where I would make the best fit."


For Swift, he will begin in Australia before targeting Milan-Sanremo, individual stages of top tier races and perhaps the Ardennes before returning to the Tour de France for the first time since 2011.


"There's a lot of exciting things coming up and it's an exciting future. I'll start in Australia, but there are more WorldTour races now so we'll sit down and plan with the team. Obviously, races like Milan-San Remo I want to target but then maybe the Ardennes and I'd like to go back to the Tour de France. I've not been there since 2011, and it would be good to race there on a performance basis and not just be a worker."




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