News: Ben Swift defends title in Lincoln

Ben Swift to defend British title with teammate Ethan Hayter and Owain Doull — Ben and Ethan discuss their chances of winning the champion’s jersey in the biggest race of the three in Lincoln this week.

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News: Ben Swift defends title in Lincoln

Ben Swift won the national title in 2019, sprinting clear of teammate Ian Stannard to finally win after going close on so many occasions. Due to COVID-19, the UK nationals didn’t run in 2020, so Swift has been able to proudly wear the stripes for more than two years.

“It’s been incredible to represent the jersey and every time I pull it on I get a little more motivation,” said Ben. “I’ve kind of got used to it now! I definitely want to keep it – even if it can be a pain to keep it clean in the winter. It’s not a bad price to pay though.”

“Winning in 2019 was a massive emotional relief for me. To eventually win the nationals after going so close in the past made it really, really special. I’d rejoined the team that year as well, and that was really important to me, then had a huge crash in the February which was a major setback. To recover and win the nationals was amazing.”

Ethan Hayter enters the race buoyed by his time trial win on Thursday and his national circuit win on Friday – his ninth and tenth victories of an incredible second season as a pro – and is further proof of his impressive late-season form. The duo will be joined in Lincoln by Grenadier teammate Owain Doull.

“Yeah it’s been pretty good,” he said. “I’m slightly tired now at the back end of this block of racing but generally the form’s still good. I’ll have a go with Swifty and Owain on Sunday. It’s always one of the very hardest days of the year. There’s not many of us and so we can’t control the race. We’ll just be racing from the front all the time. You just have to go back to how you’d race when you were a junior. It’s that style of flat out racing.”

Both Swift and Hayter are aware of the challenge facing them on the famous Lincoln circuit on Sunday, with a huge amount of riders in contention. “There’s lots of riders – and Swifty’s going really well! He’s my biggest rival,” laughs Hayter. “There are so many British pros now and it’s a good distance at 160km for the domestic guys. You could highlight half the field to be honest. It will be good to see how my brother (Leo) goes as well.” Swift concurs with Hayter and is intrigued by how the race will play out tactically.

He added: “When you look at the list anybody is a potential threat especially on a course like this, where there’s no real place you can make a difference. It’s a tricky circuit to get the tactics right. In Ethan we’ve got one of the biggest young talents in cycling and I know how to race nationals so between us, as long as one of us wins – ideally me! – that would be great.

“In terms of rivals you’ve got a lot of the young guys who are going really well. There’s Connor [Swift, Ben’s cousin] who won the year before me, Fred Wright and Jake Stewart as well. That’s only picking a handful. Then there’s Cavendish of course. We’ve just got to make sure it’s a hard day and I think there’ll be a worthy winner – there’ll be no place to hide out there.”

“Lincoln is obviously a major race on the UK domestic scene. Going up Michaelgate is iconic. I’ve only raced it once, in 2010 – I missed the nationals when they were here – but I think the race this year is going to be a bit strange, being in October. It’s not too long, 166km, and all on the local laps – when the nationals were here in the past there was a big loop to start. It’s going to be slightly different to normal.”

Whatever happens, the Ineos trio are in for a tough day out. “Nationals is always one of the hardest races of the year,” confirms Ben Swift. “In terms of power outputs and what’s required for the day, it’s up there with any Grand Tour stage or big one day Classic. It’s the only opportunity we get to race on our home roads and it’s one of the only races where we get to really race against each other. We really take it out on each other and give each other a hard time. I’m expecting a big aggressive fight again.”

And can Hayter do the triple? We will see. “It would be a really nice way to end the road season and have that British jersey and a white bike – to represent your country in every race.”

Photos: Ben winning in 2019, Ethan on the podium after winning the Under 23 in 2019 ….


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