Swift stars for Team Sky
Britain's Ben Swift powered to victory in the second stage of the Tour de Picardie to take the overall lead.
By Jonathan Turner
Last Updated: 15/05/10 8:51pm
Team Sky's Ben Swift powered to victory in the second stage of the Tour de Picardie and in the process vaulted to the top of the overall standings.
The 22-year-old had been pipped on the line in the opening stage by Kenny van Hummel but he took full advantage of another superb lead-out to land the victory at the end of the 186km route from Friville-Escarbotin-Belloy to Cires-lès-Mello in northern France.
Astana's Allan Davis was second with Swift's teammate Russell Downing in third and that trio top the general classification too, with Swift holding a 10-second advantage going into Sunday's final stage.
The Team Sky lead-out had shredded the front group to such an extent that only eight other riders were credited with the same time as Swift, with a gap of six seconds back to the rest of the front group.
Team Sky's sports director Steven de Jongh was understandably delighted when he spoke to the team's official website, saying: "It was a fantastic day - the boys did really well and we're all super-happy.
"The lead-out was terrific again, absolutely spot-on. Peter Kennaugh had started the work to get the front group back with about 30km to go. He worked well with Skil-Shimano, RadioShack, Astana and the Vacansoleil teams.
"So we were all together for the last 5km and it all went to plan from there. At the top of the hill we had enough horsepower for the lead-out and there was a big sidewind so they took the left side of the road and put everyone under real pressure."
The one moment of slight concern came in the final couple of hundred metres, as de Jongh explained: "Ben had a little problem with his chain, which was shifting, and he almost crashed. He went into Davis who was a bit upset but it was not on purpose, it was a racing accident."
Swift thanks teammates
Swift himself was keen to pay tribute to the rest of his team.
He told www.teamsky.com: "It's all thanks to them really, the guys have been amazing. They did an awesome job with the lead-out and from what I hear there were only about ten guys left at the end.
"Unfortunately I had a little incident with Allan Davis when I sort of fell sideways and banged into him. It was a complete accident and I apologised to him and he understands."
The focus now switches to Sunday's final stage and a potential first overall victory for Team Sky.
"I've got a gap of ten seconds now and there's only ten seconds on the line tomorrow so hopefully if all goes well I can get the overall win," added Swift.
His teammates will again have a key role to play, with de Jongh promising: "We'll obviously look to control the race and the guys are ready to do just that."
Stage two result:
1 - Ben Swift - (ENG) - Team Sky - (4:08:30)
2 - Allan Davis - (AUS) - Astana - (same time)
3 - Russell Downing - (ENG) - Team Sky - (same time)
4 - Mikhail Khalilov - (UKR) - Katyusha - (same time)
5 - Alexandre Pichot - (FRA) - Bbox-Bouygues - (same time)
6 - David De la Fuente - (ESP) - Astana - (same time)
7 - Koldo Fernández - (ESP) - Euskaltel - (same time)
8 - Michael Van Staeyen - (BEL) - Topsport Vlaanderen - (same time)
9 - Borut Bozic - (SLO) - Vacansoleil - (same time)
10 - José Joaquín Rojas - (ESP) - Caisse d'Epargne - (+6)
Overall standings after stage two:
1 - Ben Swift - (ENG) - Team Sky - (8:24:19)
2 - Allan Davis - (AUS) - Astana - (+10)
3 - Russell Downing - (ENG) - Team Sky - (+12)
4 - Michael Van Staeyen - (BEL) - Topsport Vlaanderen - (+16)
5 - Borut Bozic - (SLO) - Vacansoleil - (+16)
6 - Koldo Fernández - (ESP) - Euskaltel - (+16)
7 - Alexandre Pichot - (FRA) - Bbox-Bouygues - (+16)
8 - David De la Fuente - (ESP) - Astana - (+16)
9 - Mikhail Khalilov - (UKR) - Katyusha - (+16)
10 - Kenny van Hummel - (NED) - Skil-Shimano - (+21)