Words by Josh Cole-Hossain
Ben Swift, the Team Sky and British Cycling sprinter, visited the Herne Hill Velodrome in order to promote the FT London Cycle Sportive. BritishCycleSport.com caught up with him to ask him about training for road and track, and the equipment he uses for both teams.
BritishCycleSport: How do you train in the build up to a Grand Tour?
Ben Swift: You get selected for the race at the beginning of the year so that the rest of the year is then built around it. We therefore train all year round, starting with the Classics and then smaller stage races. Last year I started training for the Vuelta before Nationals in July in order to get to peak fitness by the start.
BritishCycleSport: How do you train differently for a track race than a road race?
Ben Swift: We prepare for track on the road as well, like Thomas and Kennaugh did in the Giro last year, but to get to that level that they needed to be at they had to prepare so much on the track they sacrificed the rest of their road season. You need to be fast and supple on the track, whereas on the road you need to be stronger.
BritishCycleSport: What training do you do before a big track race? (eg World Champs)
Ben Swift: For World Champs last year I only did a three-day stage road race (Tour of West-Flanders). A lot of the strength and endurance training comes from the road then you do your fine tuning on the track.
BritishCycleSport: What do you think of Brailsford’s “marginal gains” policy in British Cycling and Team Sky?
Ben Swift: I think it is massively important. If you look at the results we have produced you can see the difference marginal gains have made. Its attention to detail really. For example, Team Sky were the first team who started warming down on turbos after racing and now every team has followed us and warms down on turbos. The marginal gains now sets a standard which other teams follow.
BritishCycleSport: What does your training programme look like for the rest of the year?
Ben Swift: I’m hoping to do some shorter one weeks stage races in order to get some more stage wins. I will miss the Vuelta and hopefully be selected for the Tour next year as it starts in my hometown of Yorkshire. Obviously they will still focus on GC but we have guys like Thomas who can help me in the sprint stages.
BritishCycleSport: What do you think about closed vent helmets vs open vent helmets?
Ben Swift: The closed vents are an advantage obviously as they are more aerodynamic but you would not really want to wear one in a mountain stage in the middle of summer when temperatures reach 30C as you need to keep cool. When I know I’m gonna be sprinting at the end of the stage you want every little gain and they therefore save energy for the sprint.
BritishCycleSport: What use are the SRMs while racing and training?
Ben Swift: We have used it for a few years and its a massive tool for us. Without all the data you could feel lost as you do not know your power output for example. The sport has got so scientific now that every team is using them as its all about numbers. In the mountains its about setting a tempo and the SRMs help to control the tempo we ride at making sure we do not put out too much power and waste energy.
BritishCycleSport: Do you like the new Rapha kit more than the old Adidas kit?
Ben Swift: Its very different. It looks very smart especially in a lead out train when we are all in a line. Others still like the Adidas kit but you can really feel the quality of the Rapha kit. Its the very top end of cycling kit.
You can follow Ben via his Twitter account @swiftybswift.