We talk to Connor Swift about his road worlds experience, just before he jets off to his next races as stagiaire for Dimension Data!
How did you feel before the race – were you nervous?
The occasion, the significance of the race, it was at the front of my mind. It’s my first time at the World Championships and representing Great Britain.
The amount of staff support and planning, what you’ve got to do is all set in stone, bang, bang, bang and there’s no room for error.
That’s quite stressful and I just wanted to get the race done and do a good job.
What was your job?
My job – alongside Ian Stannard – was to let the right break to go. If anyone dangerous or from certain countries was represented, we had to chase it, bring it back and reset the race.
That was quite fun, but bloody hard.
What was your plan?
In the neutral I had to be in the top-20 to cover moves. That’s not easy, it’s World Champs and every man and his dog wants to be there!
If a dangerous move went, I had to slowly bring the whole peloton back. We didn’t want to put anyone in the move, we just wanted the right combination of riders.
There were times I asked Stannard if it was good and he would give me the nod and the pace dropped off. But as soon as another move went you were back in the red because you’re following the wheels.
How hard was that early part of the race?
We shut the road down a couple times but obviously because it’s worlds, a lot of other riders pushed through and it didn’t settle down fully until 40 minutes in.
Did you complete any special training for the race?
My training hadn’t changed much because I raced after the Tour of Britain and I was recovering between those events.
The training I did complete was some longer rides and vo2 efforts.
I’ve been ticking over and keeping the form. I knew I would have a job and it was a case of just stressing about doing a good job and not messing it up.
Once the break had gone, how did your race go?
In their race plan British Cycling predicted we would last maybe three laps of the finishing circuit.
We’d start riding to bring the breakaway back just before we entered Innsbruck. On lap two we’d assess the situation and potentially up the pace. The third time up, our plan was to increase the pace to make it harder and start dropping guys from the peloton.
What was it like when you made it to the front?
It was good and not a moment I’ll forget. It was seven-kilometre climb but there was no letup in the crowds. They had cowbells, horns, music… it was the loudest sound I’ve heard from crowds at a race.
At one point I wanted to speak to Stannard and he couldn’t hear me at all.
When I was on the front it was crazy, it spurred me on. I was emptying the tank and they kept me going all the way to the top. As I was riding I was thinking ‘it doesn’t get better than this.’
Was there an afterparty to celebrate?
We were planning one, but we got back pretty late so I had a burger and a shandy before heading to bed – I’ve still got a couple more races so I can’t quite relax yet!
How are you looking forward to your last two races?
Munsterland is normally a sprint so I could have a job to do for the team leader, or be allowed in the break, or try something a few km out. I’ll just have to see what the team plan is.
Sunday I’m really looking forward to. The last 50km of Paris Tours is going to be gravel roads with a load of steep climbs.
Edvald Boasson Hagen is going to be there so it will be great to ride with him, help out and do my best.