Britain’s Ben Swift is to undergo surgery on a recurring shoulder injury and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
The Team Sky rider has been dogged by the problem for the past three years and was forced to abandon the Eneco Tour earlier this week in the latest setback.
The 25-year-old sprinter has seen his results this year suffer at the hands of the injury, with his best finish being a second place on stage one of Bayern-Rundfahrt, and he admitted he is relieved to be addressing the issue once and for all.
“I couldn’t do anything,” Swift told teamsky.com. “I couldn’t pull on the handlebars, I couldn’t accelerate out of corners properly. So we have made the call now to finish the season and focus on getting the shoulder fixed.
“On the one hand it is a bad end to a tough year, but on the other hand I am almost quite relieved in a way to find out that there is a reason why I haven’t been firing on all cylinders this year.”
After a bright start to the season yielded two top fives in the first three races of the Challenge Mallorca in February, the Yorkshireman crashed hard in the fourth race of the event, the Trofeo Alcudia.
It was a major setback, having already undergone surgery on the shoulder earlier in the winter.
“It is the third year now I have suffered with a bad shoulder,” Swift added. “I had it operated on over the winter and then the crash in Mallorca re-damaged it.
“That crash really knocked me for six. I had a big knee injury from that crash and I didn’t notice the shoulder as much as I had too much pain in my knee at that time.
“The shoulder progressively got worse and worse as I was weight-bearing on it. In the mountains that was when it really triggered off. It got to the point where after half an hour of being on the bike there was pain and it would progress from there.”
Despite facing a second period of rehabilitation, Swift is fully focused on the positives and the lessons learned from last winter.
“The rehab this time is going to be a little bit different,” he explained. “Because we have decided to end my season now, it gives me much longer to focus on the rehab.
“I am not rushing to get back on the bike, whereas last winter I did eight weeks on the home trainer while doing my shoulder rehab. This time I am not going to touch the bike until I am allowed back on the road and just focus 100 per cent on getting the shoulder fixed.
“I am hoping to start again in February next year, so it gives me five or six months to get ready and hopefully be really strong by the time I come back. I definitely have some good motivation to get going again.”