Tour de Yorkshire: Rotherham ace Ben Swift delighted to be back
Crashing first time out and not competing since, unfinished business doesn't quite cover Ben Swift's Tour de Yorkshire experience.
Had he not suffered another accident last month, the Rotherham cyclist wouldn’t even be taking to the roads of his home county for four days of intense racing.
Yet with an unexpected chance of redemption coming the 30-year-old’s way, this is an opportunity he is determined not to let slip.
Taking to the start line in the inaugural race in 2015, Swift didn’t make it to the finish after a crash halfway through – with Yorkshire’s poster-boy dealing with the disappointment of a failed campaign.
Three years on and with the race extended from three to four days, the Great Britain Cycling Team rider is simply itching to start – and more importantly finish – his latest attempt.
“I’m just happy to be on the start line, you can’t help crashes and there were a lot of people who had that – it was the first edition, I was the local guy which made it a big deal and I crashed as we were looking to set the stage up for myself,” he said.
“That’s just cycling, hopefully we’ll forget about those memories and make some new ones.
“It’s quite an important race, when the Belgium riders are there in Belgium, they get that experience but now we do have that, it’s a big moment, it’s hard to watch when you’re not there.
“I don’t think I feel that pressure, it’s my home race and I’m just happy to be here, I’ve missed the past editions and I crashed out of the first, so I’ve watched the race grow and grow and I’m delighted to be back.”
For Swift to even be competing in a Tour de Yorkshire race is a concept far beyond what he imagined as a child.
And while the former world champion may not be among the favourites for the Yorkshire Bank and Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries blue jersey – given to the general classification winner – this race is about more than just finishing positions for the home hero.
Launched as a legacy of the Tour de France and Tour de Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries aims to give every child in Yorkshire access to a bike – with more than 50,000 chances created already.
That’s a legacy that means more to Swift than most, keen to showcase the talent in this and the next generation of cycling in Great Britain.
“The big thing we’re going to notice is the crowds, everyone is going to be buzzing and the climbs are very much for power riders, there’ll be plenty of exciting of racing to see,” he added.
“It’s incredible, I never thought I would see a tour of Yorkshire in my career – particularly when I was growing up – but the way that it’s grown in England and Yorkshire is incredible.
“To have four days now, to take in that extra day, should be great.
“I’m racing with a team full of young guys who are really excited, really buzzing – it’s a lot of their first times racing pro-competition so hopefully I can pass on some of that experience.
“My last race was April 1, I crashed and fractured my back so it’s been an up-and-down month – initially this race wasn’t on my plan but my programme has changed subsequently to allow me to race that one, every cloud has a silver lining.”
*Yorkshire Bank is an Official Partner of the Tour de Yorkshire and the ground-breaking Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries initiative. Visit www.ybonline.co.uk/tdy