Tour of California

Swift strikes gold in USA

Brit notches his fifth win and takes leader's jersey

By Jonathan Turner   Last updated: 18th May 2011

Ben Swift rounded off a stunning lead-out from Team Sky in perfect style by winning stage two at the Amgen Tour of California and in the process claimed the race leader's golden jersey.

Also see

"It's pretty special when it all works out like that."

Marcus Ljungqvist

The youngster produced a power-packed sprint at the end of the revised 122.8 kilometres route from Nevada City to Sacramento, which ended with three 3.2km laps around California's state capital.

It was soon after the start of the final lap when Team Sky burst to the head of affairs and on roads made slick by rain they dominated the closing stages from the front.

Mathew Hayman put in a typically huge turn and heading into the 700 metres-long finishing straight it was Jeremy Hunt and Greg Henderson who maintained the momentum to put Swift in position.

The 23-year-old still had work to do though and he timed his finishing kick to perfection as he repelled the late thrusts of Peter Sagan (Liquigas) and Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad).

It was Swift's fifth win of an already-memorable season and with the opening stage having been cancelled because of freezing temperatures it means he will sport the leader's jersey into the third stage.

Team effort

Team Sky's Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist was understandably delighted with the victory and keen to pay tribute to the team as a whole. He told us: "Every single one of them played their part - we had it planned and they carried it out superbly, it was a great effort. They all went to the marks we'd set out beforehand and it's pretty special when it works out like that.

"That last lap was very, very impressive. I didn't see it myself when it was actually happening but on the radio they were screaming 'Sky, Sky' all the time and I had goosebumps listening to it!"

And of Swift, who was adding to two victories at the Tour Down Under and stage wins at both Castilla y Leon and the Tour de Romandie, Ljungqvist added: "He's been showing this form right from the beginning of the year and it's been fantastic to see.

"And that goes for everyone else too - I think they all step up a little bit when they know they have guys like Swifty as the last man."

Swift was his usual modest self as he too deflected the praise onto his colleagues, saying: "The team was just unreal - they were fantastic and I can't thank them enough.

"They kept it so cool and delivered me perfectly, it was awesome. I had a pretty long sprint and it felt good.

"The shortened circuit we raced today meant fresh riders and a quicker finish. It was a pretty long circuit and you needed to ride fast but we were able to come over the top and take control on the final lap. You need to ride together and everyone did the job 100 percent."

Even the rain played a part, with Rotherham-based Swift adding: "I think everyone was just really motivated to get going again, but because it was raining, guys respected each other and gave each other enough space.

"The rain actually helped me a little bit because, coming from Britain, you get to experience riding in rain. It puts a fear in some people and helps you control things more. And even with the rain, the circuit was lined with fans which was great to see."

Textbook display

Henderson played a pivotal role in guiding Swift towards the line and he talked us through the final stages, explaining: "It was a pretty complicated finish and the rain added a bit of nervousness to the bunch but our plan was to try and take control with one lap to go.

"We did that down the back straight and at the finish Jeremy took off with about 650m left, with me on his wheel. He got me to around the 300 to 350 mark and we could feel a bit of a head/crosswind so we left just enough room for Swifty to come round. He came past with about 150 to 120 metres to go so it was a textbook lead-out really."

Tuesday's third stage will see Swift proudly wearing the golden jersey and the 192km route from Auburn to Modesto looks another one for the sprinters.

"It should be another bunch sprint," agreed Ljungqvist. "You can't take that for granted as plenty of factors come into play but I reckon that's the most likely scenario and we'll now be concentrating on that."

User comments (17)

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

James Carey says...

just one word...PERFECTION! An exhibition performance. Well done Swift, well done the team!!

Posted 21:29 17th May 2011

Steve Ward says...

Nice to see Sky totally dominating the lead out. Swifty finished the job off superbly too. I'd love to see him have a crack at the tour this year and maybe give Cav something to think about. Stages with a lump just before the finish could suit Swifty where the other sprinters might struggle. Also with Swifty contesting the sprints it could leave EBH free to take his chance in stage breakaways. Susan, Ben hails from Rotherham.

Posted 15:24 17th May 2011

Stephen Bruce says...

Brilliant, was getting down about Sky's overall ability but this result puts me in my place and a smile on my face..... Hope they can lead out like that when Cav joins !!!! Keep up the great work guys and keep the Tweets going

Posted 13:59 17th May 2011

Paul Watson says...

what a great lead out and another win for ben

Posted 11:35 17th May 2011

Steve Howes says...

Nice one Ben, Stayed up last night to watch it Live courtesy of ITV4 and whatever Eurosport where doing...sorry Sky...I do not have Sky. Great led out train 'what a corker'. rgds Steve 'the collarbone'

Posted 11:34 17th May 2011

Philip Hurd says...

Fantastic lead out, fantastic win, technique was superb. Proud of you team Sky!!!!

Posted 10:21 17th May 2011

Darren Lovell says...

How superb was that lead out?! High quality lead out against a high quality field. Timing, control, success. Well done Team Sky! Well done Swifty!

Posted 08:43 17th May 2011

Bev Smerklo says...

Fantastic result...well done to Ben and all of Team exciting, I was screaming at the TV in the end...great result guys and good luck for the Tour.

Posted 07:42 17th May 2011

Rich Marshall says...

Very impressive win for the Sky Team. Probably the best lead out I've seen since the amazing HTC lead-outs in the 2009 TDF.

Posted 06:37 17th May 2011

Dave Murray says...

Fantastic work, especially blocking the corners on the final lap. was surprised that Ben was not leading the young rider comp as well. on checking turns out he is not actually 12.

Posted 03:24 17th May 2011

Susan Watson says...

Where is Swifty from in the UK?

Posted 02:58 17th May 2011

Lenny Bernstein says...

Superb result. Great team performance, perfect lead and nicely finished by Swifty. That must be his biggest win yet, and against a quality field too. Great to see Sky back to winning ways!

Posted 00:13 17th May 2011

Ian Lawton says...

swifty you had us on the edge of our seats... kids stayed up to see it when they should have been in bed was a great ride by you and team sky...well done

Posted 00:12 17th May 2011

Arronski Shark says...

Omg Swifty so fast, Sky lead out was awesome bullied Htc ..Please put swifty up against Cav in da TDF !

Posted 00:02 17th May 2011

Mark Twist says...

Great lead out from the team finished by a great sprint well done

Posted 23:54 16th May 2011

Sarah Wright says...

Yayyyyyyyyyyyuuuuuuyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!! Well done Piglet.....Xxx

Posted 23:52 16th May 2011

Stu Bruce says...

Awesome lead out and superb finish by Swifty. Nice one lads.

Posted 23:52 16th May 2011

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Follow Us

Team Sky Shop