Ben solo brings world title joy

Down Under: Ace Ben Swift
Down Under: Ace Ben Swift
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ROTHERHAM cyclist Ben Swift has shown he can go it alone in the quest for glory by taking a world title in Australia.

He missed out on a place in Great Britain’s gold medal-winning team pursuit line-up on the opening day of the track world championships at the Hisense Arena in Melbourne but won the scratch event.

Swift travelled with the team pursuit squad only to miss selection. Then he emerged victorious in the 15km (60 laps) non-Olympic scratch race, with Nolan Hoffman of South Africa second and Wim Stroetinga of Holland third.

Swift told The Star from Melbourne: “It was awesome to see the team pursuit boys win their gold. I need to decide what direction I’m going to go in now.”

He was confident of making his solo mark: “It definitely felt good. I’m always strong in the scratch race. I won the scratch in the London World Cup as part of the omnium (a multi-race event). I was looking forward to it and knew I’d do well.”

Reliving his emotions as he crossed the line, he added: “It was real joy. I was so happy. I’d been glad to get out there. I was climbing the walls all day waiting for the race.”

Swift was spurred on by the team pursuit win, saying: “I couldn’t be sitting there as the only one not with anything.”

After Melbourne, he will consider whether he can force his way into the team pursuit squad or if he has another Olympic option - including the prospect of supporting Mark Cavendish in the road race.

He said: “I’d love to support Cav. It’s nice to have options if the team pursuit doesn’t happen.”

Barnsley’s Ed Clancy helped Britain’s four-man pursuit team beat Australia to take their gold in a world record time of three minutes 53.295 seconds.

“It’s the best one ever,” said Clancy, a world and Olympic champion in 2008.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had to fight as hard as that for a win. It was pretty epic.”

The team also included Pete Kennaugh, Geraint Thomas and Steven Burke. Clancy described himself and Kennaugh as “passengers” in the closing lap as Thomas dragged them along and feared defeat, but Britain prevailed.