CYCLING: Ben is so close to first stage victory as Vuelta hots up

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ROTHERHAM’S Ben Swift was left ruing a minor error yesterday on the second stage of the Vuelta a Espana as he narrowly missed out on his first Grand Tour victory.

The 24-year-old from Dinnington showed once again that he has the ability to win at the highest possible level, but said a minor misjudgment on the run in to the finish of the 181.4km ride from Pamplona to Viana cost him dear.

Positioned well in the leading group with 500 metres to the line Swift found himself leading the race sooner than he would have wanted. He told The Star: “I was in front with about 400-450m to go and started my sprint full on with about 300 to the line.

“It was a bit of an error and I could have fought my way back in again (into the pack) but no one was challenging me. But when I saw a wheel move alongside me I knew that was it.”

Swift ended third behind stage winner John Degenkold of Germany and runner-up Allan Davis from Australia on a sweltering day in northern Spain. Temperatures reached as high as 40C, which led to a long day in the saddle for Swift. He said: “It was very hot early in the day.

“The opening break nearly got away for the stage because it was so hard to chase down.

“We had a few rain showers but we could have done with a big downpour. It was a relief when it cooled down a bit.”

Swift’s Team Sky are targeting an overall victory for Tour de France runner-up Chris Froome. The race heads into the mountains today with a 155km ride from Faustino V to the summit of the Arrate, in Eibar.

On Saturday Sky finished the team time trial in Pamplona 12 seconds behind the winning team, Movistar.

Swift’s Sky teammates Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish have confirmed they’ll take part in next month’s Tour of Britain.