Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Sky's Ben Swift falls away after making an early break in Giro d'Italia

Winner: Italy's Diego Ulissi crosses the finish line yesterday
Winner: Italy's Diego Ulissi crosses the finish line yesterday

A gruelling day-long break by Yorkshire's Ben Swift saw the Sky rider come close to the lead of the Giro d'Italia yesterday.

Twenty seconds down overall on race leader Michael Matthews before yesterday's stage, Swift made it into an 11-man move early on the hilly 203-kilometre trek through southern Italy which at one point gained nearly six minutes on the main pack.

That hefty advantage converted Swift into "race leader on the road" – the Giro leader had that margin remained in place – but hard work by Matthews' Orica-GreenEdge squad eventually saw the break reeled in with 25 kilometres to go.

Swift then fell back to finish out of the fight, dropped on the final climb to Viggiano and nearly 12 minutes down.

Italy's Diego Ulissi jumped forward at the finish to win the stage, with Matthews extending his lead to 14 seconds.

"Overall I'm happy with the day," Swift, already second in the Dublin stage behind German sprinter Marcel Kittel, said.

"I've come away with something and it wasn't for nothing.

"I thought maybe we would stay away until the last lap, but once riders [in the break] started messing around [not collaborating] I never thought it could still stick.

"At least I got something out of it for the points classification."

Thanks to winning an intermediate sprint on the stage, he is now fifth in the classification, which he says will "more and more likely become a major target for the rest of the race."

"We'll just keep chipping away now for the stages and see how it goes," Swift added.

Meanwhile Swift's Sky team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins had his lead in the Tour of California cut to 24 seconds as Rohan Dennis won stage three.

Team Sky's Wiggins, whose victory on stage two gave him a 44-second advantage over the Australian, finished ninth on the hilly 174km stage from San Jose to Mount Diablo.

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