Tour de France: ‘I can win a stage’, says South Yorkshire’s Ben Swift

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ben Swift is targeting a stage victory as the Tour de France begins today with the Grand Depart.

The Rotherham speedster, who at 23-years-old is the youngest member of the Team Sky squad, has been selected to not only gain experience in what is only his second Grand Tour but also to win the team’s first ever Tour de France stage.

Bigger challenges lay ahead for Sky in the mountains with Bradley Wiggins in among the contenders for the famous yellow jersey. But the opening seven stages of the race offer the sprinters the chance to grab the limelight. Swift has won more races in 2011 than any other British cyclist. He said: “Along the way I want to do as well as I can in each sprint stage. I picked up a third in the Giro d’Italia in my first Grand Tour. So if I can beat that or even take a stage that would be fantastic. I’m looking forward to it now. I can’t wait to get started.”

Tomorrow will test Sky’s team-work with a 23km team time trial. Swift, who prefers racing to time-trialling, says a good performance will put Wiggins in a strong position.

“I think Bradley’s got a good chance especially with the team time trial this year. We have a super strong team for that. That will be one of the stages I’ll be most nervous about actually.

“Time trials, I get bored. You’re just sat there on your own going as hard as you can for however long it is. Team time trials are different because it is all nine of us and it’s a bit more a race, which I prefer. You can use a bit more of your speed; you’re not doing half an hour on the front, you do 30 seconds fast,” he said.