Tom Simpson (1965) and Mark Cavendish (2011) and are the only British riders to make the top step of the podium at the World Championships, with the latter collecting another medal at the championships in 2016. For all the recent dominance at Grand Tours, the British rarely get their act together when it comes to one-day racing at the highest level.
She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.Susan B. Anthony
For all the recent dominance at Grand Tours, the British rarely get their act together when it comes to one-day racing at the highest level. The 2013 nadir is behind them, and in the years since then, Ben Swift has been the most consistent performer.
The British team is without a standout favourite for the road race but the selected sextet represent a collective that has grown and matured together, with several of their ranks graduates of the Academy. It could be their greatest asset as they’re unlikely to be undone by individualism. This is very much a squad honed around the idea of the collective.
The gold standard for Great Britain at the elite World’s is the unit that propelled Mark Cavendish to the rainbow jersey in 2011. That team was borne of several years work and, unfortunately given this is a home World Championship, eight years on Great Britain seem more of a work in progress. They qualified only six riders rather than eight, Simon Yates – is absent.
- Ben Swift (Team leader)
- Adam Yates (super domestique)
- Geraint Thomas (super domestique)
Former professional Matt Brammeier has assembled a team around Ben Swift with the national road champion penciled in as the designated leader of a small but perfectly formed squad. This is very much a squad created in Brammeier’s image with defined roles, collaborative thinking, and a no-frills, no-nonsense approach. He has picked the best riders available.
Swift has underrated qualities when it comes to races of this length, having made the podium twice in Milan-San Remo and the top four at the Worlds in Bergen two years ago.
Incredibly, at this stage last year the 31-year-old was fighting to save his career after two fallow years at UAE Team Emirates but wisely chose to return to Team Sky/Ineos on a one-year deal rather than pursue interest from Lotto Soudal, who later turned their attention to Adam Blythe.
Despite picking up another injury in the spring, Swift has rallied with a string of consistently impressive rides. He looked like a new rider at the Tour de Suisse in June, duly won the Nationals, and in the second half of the calendar has stayed upright and healthy.
He can’t do what Alaphilippe, Van Avermaet and Sagan can do – if he could, it would have happened by now – but he remains a class act both on and off the bike. Missing Luke Rowe is a massive blow, but the rest of the Team Ineos core will be crucial when it comes to supporting Swift.