Following a transition to UAE Team Emirates last season, Ben Swift has had a mixed second season so far.
After a solid start to 2018 at the Tour of Algarve, he suffered a fractured vertebra in a crash at the Tour of Flanders which ruled out his fitness for the three week slog of the Giro d’Italia.
The silver lining was a return to racing (in Great Britain colours) at his native Tour de Yorkshire, where he could spend extra time with his young son before preparing for the Criterium du Dauphiné.
How do you wind down on your rest days?
Normally the first day after a race I will do a recovery ride – anything up to an hour and a half. On the second day I like to take a complete day off, just relaxing, and totally chill out. I enjoy spending quality time with my little man because we don’t get many chances to have complete days off the bike during the season. I don’t really have any hobbies, it’s all about entertaining him really.
What’s the worst thing about being a professional cyclist?
Nowadays, it’s not seeing my little man. Having a child has changed my life for the better, though I don’t think my job or my training have changed as a result of having him. He comes travelling with us when I do training camps, but it’s a lot harder to leave him when I go and race. So I look forward a lot more to coming back. It’s just nice to see him growing.
But he was at the Tour de Yorkshire…
Yeah and he has already made his debut TV appearance at 14-months of age. When I was walking back to the bus after one of the stages carrying Arthur on my arm, the guys from BBC Look North came up to me and interviewed me. I don’t know if he will become a cycle racer but he’s definitely full of energy, so he’ll be some sort of active person. He’s a bit into everything at the minute.
What do you like about riding in Yorkshire?
You’ve got your short hills which are very up and down, heavy roads, and that’s a really good sort of training as it’s hard-going all the time. I liked the Cow and Calf climb near Ilkley. It’s not too long, but it’s got that kick at the end. You can’t really replicate 20 or 30 minute climbs in Yorkshire though, so you have to go to places like Mallorca to get in the long climbs and the warmer climate.
Where is your favourite café stop?
I don’t tend to stop at cafés much really. In the winter when we are training pretty hard we go up in the hills and sometimes stop at a café in Hathersage. I like it because it’s towards the end of the ride so I don’t have far to get home. I just usually have a cappuccino or a flat white, and if I am a bit hungry, some tea cakes – nothing too adventurous.
Are there any Yorkshire specialities you take with you when you travel?
At a race I have whatever is there, but certainly when I go on training camps I do like to take Yorkshire Tea teabags with me.
What is your proudest result?
The stage I won in Vuelta al Pais Vasco in 2014. It was a mad stage where there were only 18 people left, and no one had been expecting me to be there. I’d been trying to win a stage at Pais Vasco all week.
Which is the worst defeat you ever experienced?
Milan-Sanremo, when I came second by half a wheel in 2016. It meant more to me when I got on the podium in 2014 because it was the first time I was doing that race. It was terrible weather and I came out and got a third place in only my second Monument. I think second and fourth are the worst positions you can finish in a race. Third is alright because you’re not necessarily close to the win, but you are still on the podium.
Top 10: Finish Line Faces of Milan-Sanremo
Who is your ideal room-mate?
Somebody that you can speak to quite easily but who also knows when you don’t want to talk. The best sort of room-mates I’ve had have been people like Pete Kennaugh, Ian Stannard or Geraint Thomas. You’ve grown up with them and you’ve got such a good connection that they just know when you want to have a bit of quiet time. In UAE Team Emirates I like being with the young Italians so I can practice my language skills.
Do you train with your cousin Connor Swift?
In the past I mentored him. We sometimes do a training camp together in the early season, but he’s in his own team now and is really adapting to and embracing the life of a domestic professional cyclist. Connor had a very strong Tour of Yorkshire, making a good showing in the bunch sprints and was up there on the road. He’s only 21, but hopefully he’ll keep on growing and getting results. It’ll be nice to see him out on the World Tour stage.