Swift off to a flier in Mallorca

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Rotherham cyclist Ben Swift has enjoyed a promising start to a 2014 campaign he hopes will be headlined by a Tour de France appearance on home soil.

The 26-year-old Team Sky rider, who underwent shoulder surgery six months ago, recorded two podium finishes in three days at the Mallorca Challenge.

The sprinter finished third in the Trofeo Platja de Muro on Wednesday just two days after breasting the tape second at the Trofeo Ses Salines.

It represents a healthy return from Swift given his injury problems and the fact that this week on the sun-kissed island was a perfect opportunity to lay down a marker.

Swift is hoping to overhaul CJ Sutton and Edvald Boasson Hagen in the race to get the nod from Dave Brailsford to be Sky’s sprinter in their nine-man Tour de France team.

This year’s Tour begins in Leeds on July 5 with the first stage ending in a sprint finish into Harrogate.

The second stage runs from York to Sheffield, and ends on the roads Swift regularly trains on.

Swift rode the Tour de France in 2011 but has been blighted by a shoulder injury ever since.

Supported by Sir Bradley Wiggins and Leeds’s Josh Edmondson, 21, among others, Swift raced onto the podium in yesterday’s 162km race, behind Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) but ahead of Boasson Hagen who was sixth.

Sports director Dan Frost said: “The guys stuck to the plan and did exactly what we talked about.

“They did a good job to set up Swifty and make the race hard for the other sprinters, but a couple of those other sprinters are really good at climbing.

“There wasn’t much we could do in the end, Quick-Step had a really strong team here and had a lot of riders there at the finish.

“You can always look at the race afterwards and say ‘we should have done this or that’ but it was a good plan and we rode well. We had a bit of bad luck at times with Josh (Edmondson) and Sebastian (Henao) having a few technical issues on Soller.

“Both Kiry (Vasil Kiryienka) and Brad (Wiggins) did a great job pulling on the flat part and then Eddy did his work in the sprint.

“Swifty was where he should be but maybe he opened a touch too early today. It’s always a balancing act in the sprint but I think it was going to be tough to beat Meersman today. Well done to him.”