Report: Ben Swift wins in Poland

Britain’s Ben Swift claimed victory on stage two of the Tour of Poland in a sprint finish in Opole in the World Tour stage race. It was Ben’s first win of 2012 and a pretty special one says the Rotherham rider.

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The Brit outpaced Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale), leading from the front in the bunch kick after the 239.4 kilometres from Walbrzych to Opole. After British Road Race Champion Ian Stannard and Mathew Hayman had put him in the right position arriving at the final corner, Swift held off the challenge of Viviani for his first win on the road this year with Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) completing the podium in third.

The undulating terrain in the early part of the longest stage of this year’s race provided the setting for a breakaway and the trio of Diego Caccia (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Damian Walcazk (Reprezentacja Polski) and Adrian Kurek (Utensilnord-Named) took their chance. They still had a lead of more than three minutes when Caccia made a solo bid for glory from 20 kilometres out. But the Italian was caught by the peloton on the last of three circuits, each of six kilometres, around the southern city of Opole.

That cleared the way for a sprint finish with Stannard, resplendent in his new national champion’s jersey, moving up on the left before Hayman took over and Swift lived up to his name. Ben Swift said afterwards “It was brilliant. We made the call to save our legs for the lead out – if we needed to we were going to put someone on the front but the guys did a perfect job looking after me and got me right into position. It was unbelievable at the end; (Juan Antonio) Flecha did a hell of a lot of work to move us all into position around that circuit and then (Ian) Stannard just went for it – I think the cobbles excited him! And then Mat Hayman did a massive turn to get me almost right to the line.”

“The Yorkshireman was happy to bounce back from some bad luck on stage one, adding: “I was quite disappointed yesterday because I’d done all the work to get over the last climb and then right at the very top I punctured; it’s always hard to look at those results when you know you should have been in with a good chance of winning.”

Nicolas Portal, Team Sky Sports Director: “I am very happy with how the day turned out and we managed to produce a really good lead-out. It was a long, long stage. The breakaway which finally went was very good for us and then Liquigas took control which you would expect. The plan was to save Flecha, Ian and Mat for the lead-out with Swifty. Every year in Poland we have these finishing circuits and sometimes they are very technical. There are also a lot of teams here and some good sprinters. You need to fight to be at the front and we knew that with the team we had here we would be able to do that.”



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