Rotherham’s Ben Swift pipped on the line but insists victory can happen

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BEN Swift is feeling confident he can land his first Grand Tour victory before the end of the Vuelta a Espana after losing out by a tyre’s width yesterday in Valladolid.

Swift, aged 24, from Rotherham, who rides for elite British team Sky Procycling, was edged into second place on the 204.5km ride from Aguilar de Campoo by Italian rider Daniele Bennati.

He admitted to being frustrated at not being able to cross the line first but thinks in his two remaining chances before the race ends in Madrid on Sunday a victory is possible.

“It is frustrating to not get the win but I’m feeling really good and there’s two good opportunities left,” he told The Star. “I knew I was in good form but I was struggling a bit at the start of the race.

“However, as it has gone on I’ve been feeling stronger and stronger.

“I’ve had some good days in the mountains and the team has done a great job working for me.”

With Team Sky leader Chris Froome now out of contention to take the overall race victory a stage success for Swift is now the priority.

He said: “We had been getting out in front to protect Chris early in the race, which meant a longer lead out that usual, but now we’ll be able to do the real thing.”

It nearly worked perfectly yesterday.

“The team was awesome,” said Swift. “But Bennati had the perfect ride. He tagged onto me and then just got me at the end by a tyre’s width.

“The next stage (today, 178.4km from Peñafiel to La Lastrilla) is another chance.

“It has an uphill finish but I’ll be giving it everything I’ve got and will keep trying.”

Swift’s strong form this season has also earned him a place on British Cycling’s long list for World Championship selection.

Alongside Sheffield’s Adam Blythe, Swift has been named to the 14 strong list, which includes current world champion Mark Cavendish and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.

However, there’s no room for Rotherham’s former National Road Racing champion Russell Downing, who has been overlooked by the selectors despite a strong season.

Spain’s Alberto Contador maintained his one minute 52 second advantage over countryman Alejandro Valverde in the Vuelta.