Feature Interview: Connor Swift (Madison Genesis)

Before his race at Leicester on Sunday, I caught up with British Road Race Champion Connor Swift of Madison Genesis to chat about being a stagiaire for Dimension Data

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Feature Interview: Connor Swift (Madison Genesis)

Before his race at Leicester on Sunday, I caught up with 22 year old British Road Race Champion Connor Swift of Madison Genesis. Having spent the last few seasons watching Connor progress in the sport, it is easy to see why his solo win at the British Road Race Championships was a popular one.

The rider born in Bath but now calling Doncaster home, and cousin of Ben Swift, was stopped time and time again by fans as we walked back to his team’s vehicles to have a chat.

It isn’t just because Connor is a super nice guy, proving that nice guys can win, but also the manner of his victories. “TooFast” as he has been nicknamed, is known for his late attacks but usually they are only a few k out – his one in the British Road Race Championships was a lot further from that packed finish line and when former champion Adam Blythe tried to close him down, it didn’t happen and Connor won a momentous race and the jersey was his.
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The young rider has certainly come a long way from his days when his sport was triathlons. With help from coach Kevin Dawson, another ‘Donny’ legend from a few decades ago both in road racing along with the likes of John Tanner and Mark Lovatt, but also in time trials where he made the BBAR his own year after year after year.

Connor himself is no mean time trialist, 10th in the British championship this year which was a disappointment as he enjoys his time trials but whilst he may not yet have perfected that discipline, he can sprint with the best and also use those solo riding skills to win again and again.

Winning the Road Race Championship in the style he did has now seen Connor given the opportunity to ride with a World Tour team for a few races at the end of this season – that team being Dimension Data. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity and getting the most from it” he told me in Leicester.

Connor will get to wear his British champion’s stripes in these races with Dimension Data and we laughed as he said “I think Steve Cummings has a lot of spare kit and they have taken me on board to make the most of it!”

Connor added “It will be pretty special to ride in that team in the National Champions jersey and it will be the first time the World Tour guys have seen this year’s winner of the British jersey.”

Connor’s already experienced many a positive reaction to his win when racing abroad from riders he’s raced against recently and says he may well get more of that in the pro peloton as he steps up from racing domestically and doing races like the Arctic Tour of Norway and hopefully, he says, the Deutschland Tour.

“I think it will be good experience and my first race will be the Arctic Tour of Norway next week (Thursday). Roger (Hammond) won’t be on the race and I’ll be with a group of guys I have yet to meet but it will be fine. One of the riders in the squad is Mark Cavendish – my first race with them and no pressure then helping Cav out!”

“It will be good to have these guys as my teammates. I can’t do WorldTour events so the ones I do will be the equivalent of the Tour of Yorkshire and Tour of Britain and I have coped well in those races so I am not going to be scared of the events I’m down to do”.

Being in a WorldTour team may mean a slight change of style of racing for Connor depending on what his role will be in the team working for the likes of Cav. Those us who have watched him race year in, year out, know he enjoys getting stuck in, something that hasn’t changed with the champions jersey on his back.

An example of that was going to France with Madison Genesis. The first event was a stage race ( Kreiz Breizh Elites). “We went into the race with no real leader and to see how the day pans out and the breakaway that went on stage one, turned out to be the GC riders for the rest of the event.”

Connor was second overall in that stage race and lost the race on countback but the legs were good and his team Madison Genesis rode well for him on the final stage trying to get the victory for him. “We then went to Poly Normande and that was a tough race” Connor says. “We had Neil and Richard in the break and they swept up most of the primes and I finished third in the bunch kick, fifth in the race. So it was good to get that sort of racing in ahead of the Tour of Britain and the other events I’m doing”.

And whilst we expected Connor to be wearing the champions jersey in road races since that momentous victory in Stamfordham (Northumberland), it hasn’t quite turned out that way. As he’s leading the mini national series in the UK, he’s had to wear that jersey and then, when he went to France, found himself in the KoM jersey. Hopefully however, he will get a place in a pro team in Europe next season and get to give the jersey a lot of exposure in the peloton there as many a champion has in the past.

Finally, we talked about this season and how he felt about it? “It’s been the best season I have ever had” he replied. “I had a good year last season and this has been even better. If it keeps going like that year after year, that would be nice!”

“I’m a year older, a year stronger and more experienced. I came into this season with a little added pressure after having some wins last year and had to take that on board and perform for the team. If I can step up to World Tour next year, there will be pressure and I like that, especially with stronger riders around me. I think I’ll perform well in that environment.”

Connor isn’t sure of his programme for the rest of the season with Dimension Data but says he would like to race the Deutschland Tour but at the moment isn’t sure of whether he’ll get the chance which he says would be a great event to do before the Tour of Britain. But surprise surprise, Connor will be back in the colours of Madison Genesis for the Tour of Britain …

“I am allowed to jump in and out of both teams as a stagiere and I think Dimension Data are taking more of a sprinter’s squad to the Tour of Britain so being with Madison Genesis will give me more opportunities.”

So the national champions jersey will get to race the National Tour! “It will be great to have the jersey in the National Tour” he says. “That will be unreal. We’ll go there with a strong squad and the team will be looking at some of the stages whilst I am away and then fill me in.”

One stage he may know in the Tour of Britain is the Mansfield one which is around 30 miles away from Doncaster and he’s expecting lot of family and friends to be road side. Before then though, he has the Arctic Tour of Norway to do on Thursday – good luck to Connor!

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Post Race Video Chat
After a high speed fall, we also caught up with Connor after the race to see how he was ….


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