Pals give the ‘Special One’ Tour send-off

Swiftly down to earth: Ben Swift, far right, has France on his mind, but here he's cycling with, from left, Russ Downing, Peter Ward, Gary Ridgeway, Ben Last and Dean Downing.
Swiftly down to earth: Ben Swift, far right, has France on his mind, but here he's cycling with, from left, Russ Downing, Peter Ward, Gary Ridgeway, Ben Last and Dean Downing.
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It looks like six mates out for a Friday morning ride.

Look at bit closer, though, and you’ll see that one of them is pretty special, two of them are really rather good and the other three ... well, they’re the ones who are living the dream as they pedal along with the stars.

The ‘special one’ is, of course, Tour de France rider Ben Swift.

On his last training rides before Sunday’s National Championship and seven days before the Tour, 23-year-old Dinnington-born Swift could think of nothing better than meeting at Wickersley roundabout in Rotherham for his usual three-hour ride.

Accompanying him was Team Sky colleague and Giro d’Italia rider Russ Downing, his brother and pro cyclist, Dean Downing, fireman Gary Ridgeway, catering company owner Peter Ward and semi pro Benjamin Last.

Swift was expected to take his turn at the front of the pack. As Ridgeway said, even though Swift has been selected for the world’s most famous race, he’s still the same old Ben. “It was no surprise when we heard of his Tour selection,” he said. “He’s awesome. It’s not affected him. We’ll still let him ride with us - not the other way round!”

n Cycling: P41