Swift warns world to beware ‘dangerous’ GB
Ben Swift is adamant that Great Britain’s nine-man team for next week’s men’s elite world road race in Norway will not be there simply to make up the numbers, saying they have a number of “dangerous riders” who could compete for medals.
He did add, though, that he was “surprised” by the omission of national champion Steve Cummings from the line-up for Bergen. Britain’s hopes of success have been badly hit by the shoulder fracture sustained by 2011 world champion Mark Cavendish at the Tour de France in July, which forced him to withdraw from consideration last week.
Lizzie Deignan, meanwhile, until last month one of the favourites for the women’s race, had her appendix removed a few weeks ago and her form is uncertain.
The individual time trials may well provide a better opportunity. Chris Froome will hope to round off an impressive season by challenging Dutchman Tom Dumoulin for gold, while Elinor Barker, Olympic champion in the team pursuit, is a dark horse.
Swift, though, insists there is still the potential for GB to do something in the men’s road race. “We’ve got dangerous guys,” he said. “Pete [Kennaugh] can animate a race in the final and the Bergen course really suits him. [Ian] Stannard if he’s in the mood. Me for the final if it does come to that scenario.”
Swift admitted that he found Cummings’s exclusion odd, given Cavendish’s absence. “I was a bit surprised,” he said. “He’s the national champion. It’s not like we have got an out-andout leader.”
But he said GB still had a number of cards to play and that the team’s inexperience and lack of a clear leader would help them fly under the radar. Ian Stannard is the only one over 30, while only Stannard and Swift have ridden in more than one world championship.
“I guess that one strength of our team is that we’re not just going to ride on the front for one person,” he said. “We can cover moves and then maybe put an option at the final. We’re excited.”
The course has been designed to suit Norwegians Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alexander Kristoff. Then there is Peter Sagan (Slovakia,) chasing a hat-trick of titles. “From speaking with Eddy [Boasson-hagen], I think it’s a bit harder than people think,” said Swift. “And then you’ve got the weather. [If it’s bad ]that kind of suits me and Stannard.”