South Yorkshire’s Ben Swift backs ‘le bid’ as he sets sights on British title

French connection: Ben Swift, left, leads on the Champs Elysees in Paris during the final stage of last year's Tour de France
French connection: Ben Swift, left, leads on the Champs Elysees in Paris during the final stage of last year's Tour de France
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BEN Swift says he’s fully behind a bid to bring the opening stages of the 2016 Tour de France to Yorkshire.

Swift, aged 24, from Rotherham, is one of the favourites for Sunday’s British Cycling National Road Race which will take place over the lanes and roads of North Yorkshire.

But the prospect of riding the world’s greatest bike race on home soil is a prospect that excites Olympic Games-hopeful Swift.

He told The Star: “It’d be amazing if it comes to Yorkshire.

“The Tour gets serious hype every day. The mountain stages are where the legends are made but so many people come out every day it’s unbelievable.

“When I was rolling down to the start for each stage last year there was always a buzz. It’s the biggest and most important bike race in the world.”

Tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire have submitted an official bid to the Tour’s organisers. Event Scotland have also applied.

The Star understands that Sheffield may play a part if either bid is successful and could either host a start or a finish to a stage - although no firm plans have been drawn up. The Tour is the world’s largest annual sporting event and, if successful, the bid would give the local economy a multi-million pound boost.

For now, though, Yorkshire will have to settle for hosting this year’s British Championship. Swift enters the race in excellent form after superb performances in the Tours of Luxembourg and Switzerland.

He said it is important that he has a good performance over the Ampleforth, York, course: “I’d be disappointed if I wasn’t close at the end. I’m feeling stronger with every ride and I think that’s to do with doing a lot of track at the start of the season and then I had my injury. The race is wide open this year. There’s some really strong teams and with us (Team Sky) having only five in the race it will be a different dynamic from previous years.”

Swift finished seventh last year after he missed an early break. “It’s important to get in that first break. I fought back to seventh last time; I’d love to win that British jersey this time.”

To support the bid for the Tour de France visit www.yorkshire.com/back-the-bid