Through the wind and rain of Normandy yesterday, Ben Swift sacrificed himself for his team.
He knew he felt good, but also realised that a cruel incline just before the finish meant the day was better suited to one of his team-mates.
So he pedalled hard, kept his head down and delivered Sky colleagues Geraint Thomas and Edvald Boasson Hagen to the bottom of the slope in perfect position.
Thomas, who is enjoying a superb Tour, pushed on and with 200 metres to go Boasson Hagen struck for the line.
It looked as though he had gone too soon, but the Norwegian held his nerve and his tempo to give Sky their first Tour de France stage victory.
Boasson Hagen and Thomas will rightly take the plaudits but the work 23-year-old Swift, from Dinnington, did won’t be forgotten by his fellow riders.
Thomas said: “Swifty did a great job for me. He took a lot of the wind and it’s people like him who don’t get the credit.”
Swift will be first to say he was just doing his job. And he told The Star, from the jubilant Team Sky bus, that Boasson Hagen deserved all the praise.
“Eddie is super-talented,” he said. “He can do everything from sprinting to climbing. I felt good today and I just wanted to make sure I got Eddie and ‘G’ (Thomas) into the right place at the right time. The win gives us all a boost to our confidence. We’re a pretty happy team right now.”
The 226.5km stage from Dinan to Lisieux was the longest of the Tour this year.
Sweeping past the world heritage site of Mont Saint Michel and the castle of William the Conqueror along the way, Swift revelled in the bad weather.
“I don’t mind the rain,” he said. “Coming from Britain it is what we get all the time anyway so it’s a bit of an advantage.
“I only wore a jersey and rain jacket, not even a vest.”
No vest? Now that is a sacrifice indeed.
Stage seven - today: Le Mans to Chateauroux (218km).
The green jersey race is set to continue on the flatest stage of this year’s race. A chance for Swift in the sprint finish, but Mark Cavendish is favourite to add to his tally of wins.