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Signs for Chinese Project TJ Sport team currently operating as Lampre-Merida

Ben Swift, who has been at Team Sky since its inception, is to leave at the end of the season for the team currently known as Lampre-Merida, reports The Guardian. Chinese company TJ Sport Consultation recently became Lampre’s new licence holders and the new sponsor is yet to be announced.

28-year-old Swift has been with Team Sky since 2010 and said his departure was ‘like leaving family’.

“It’s a hard, hard decision leaving Sky. It’s like leaving my family, but it’s now or never if I want to see how good I can be. I don’t really have anything to lose, and I’d like to publicly thank Sky for what they’ve done for me and British Cycling. It’s going to be a culture change but I’ve been comfortable for the last seven years and I need to go outside my comfort zone.”

Although he has won a number of stages in WorldTour races, Swift’s most high profile result for Sky was his second place in this year’s Milan-San Remo having finished third in the same race in 2014. He was also world scratch race champion on the track in 2012.

Explaining his motivation for moving, Swift pointed to Sky’s emphasis on racing for the general classification in stage races.

“Most of the time, I would be second fiddle at Sky,” he said. “When I have done my job for the team, then I get my opportunity. This team will be giving me more freedom and support. There will be various leaders, but they believe in my ability and I can have riders to support me.”

To give one example of how he would have greater freedom, he said his new team would have no out-and-out general classification rider at the Tour de France. He said this would “open the door a bit.”

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