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"It's taken its time to be honest. I'd say for the last few weeks I've been at 80% going into 90% and this last week I've been out in Mallorca getting in some good training."





30.07.2016 @ 13:52 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ben Swift had battled through five stages of the Tour of Romandie at the start of May and had just a few kilometres left - and a sprint finish to contest - before continuing his preparations for the season ahead - and a potential spot on the Tour de France team.


But a nasty crash as the pace ramped up in Switzerland saw Swift hit the deck hard and, although he was able to remount and finish the final stage of the race, he was whisked off to hospital for scans on his knee.


Although the initial prognosis appeared to be positive, it quickly became apparent to Swift that the injury was more severe than first feared, and it's only over the past two weeks that he's been able to get back into full gas training.


The 28 year old had to miss both the Tour of California and the Tour of Poland, as well as watching any chances he had of making the Tour team go up in smoke.


But now he's back and ready to attack at RideLondon - a race that he's has always done well in, finishing 10th, second and third.


He told "It's taken its time to be honest. I'd say for the last few weeks I've been at 80% going into 90% and this last week I've been out in Mallorca getting in some good training. It took a long, long time. It's only really been the last two weeks that I've been able to ride without any pain in my knee.


"It would have been amazing to be there [at the Tour de France], and I think I was on track to make it this year if I hadn't crashed. It would have been nice to be there alongside the guys, but that's bike racing, you know? It's not like I was out messing around when I crashed, I was doing my job, and with the pressure of sprinting, well, crashes are all part and parcel of it."


The Tour of Poland started on June 12 but that also came too soon for Swift, as he explains: "For one, I wasn't fit enough, because I'd not been able to train before it and still had pain in my knee. With this sort of injury, it's a bit of a switch really. It all of a sudden stopped hurting, but for a long, long time it was constantly sore, and being on the bike made it worse. It was a waiting game."


This time last year the Yorkshireman had spent a similar spell off the bike and RideLondon was his first race back then too, but there's not quite the sense of deja vu for Swift, who admits that the shoulder injury that ruled him out last year made training far easier.


"I have been thinking that, but I've had a completely different injury this time," he explains. "With that shoulder injury, I took four days off, then a couple more days to get over the operation, and then I could train straight away on the turbo. I could work on my fitness and condition, but this time I've not been able to work for a long time because of the knee injury. The more I tried to press on, the worse the knee got. I had to manage it where I could get enough riding in to try and stay fit and progress, but not make it sore."


Because of that, Swift is honest when asked about his prospects for Sunday's test: "We'll have to see how it goes. I'll go in with an open mind, race as hard as I can, and we'll see what comes of it.


"For the last couple of years it's been quite an aggressive race. There's little lanes, and it's hard. It's always touch and go if the breakaway will stay away till the finish. Of the four previous editions [including the Olympic road race], two have been sprints and two have been breakaways, so it's always a hard day out."


Despite the disappointment of injury ending his Tour ambitions, Swift is quick to confess he watched as much of the race as he could, and is excited about riding alongside Chris Froome this weekend, a week on from his win in Paris.


"I watched it as much as possible," he continues. "It was brilliant. The boys rode flawlessly and got the result that they deserved. I enjoy watching cycling anyway. First and foremost I'm a fan, I love the sport, and am lucky to do this as my profession. It kept me off my feet too, it was something to do after training!


"Seeing guys that you're so close with and have grown up with performing so well and doing their jobs as well as they did was great.


"This weekend we've got a good team to cover a lot of bases. We've got three strong guys [Froome, Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard] coming out of the Tour, but how hard they'll race with the Rio Olympics coming up, we'll see. They'll want to keep themselves safe. Obviously I'll be going full gas, doing everything I can to the best of my ability and then we've got Danny [van Poppel] for the sprint. We've got a lot of bases covered."


And once Sunday is out of the way, Swifthas got plenty more targets for the remainder of the season.


"With how it's been, having a big break in the middle, I can re-focus until the end of the season. I want to try and get as much out of myself as possible. I had a good start to the season so hopefully I can have a good end to the season now and perform very consistently in the remaining races."



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