A former Thorne school student who bounced back from a horrific crash to race with one of the country’s top cycling teams is poised to compete on home ground when the Tour de Yorkshire passes close to the town next month.
Connor Swift (22), of Moorends, was inspired to take up the sport by his teachers at Trinity Academy who encouraged him to take part in a Doncaster schools triathlon event when he was just 13. “It was the first time I’d ever thought about cycling,” Connor said. “We didn’t need to take any kit or anything – we just jumped straight on the bikes after the swim. A week later my PE teacher told me that I’d won the whole event!”
After his success in that first triathlon, Connor got a racing bike and did several more, eventually deciding to specialise in his strongest of the three disciplines – cycling. He had support along the way from his cousin Ben Swift, himself a professional cyclist, and joined a local elite team while still a student in Trinity Academy’s sixth form.
Connor has spent the past four years focused on building a career in the sport. His ambitions to join a professional team suffered a hitch in June 2016 though when, on his way to a local 10-mile time trial race, he hit a stationary van at almost 30mph, sustaining multiple injuries and requiring weeks of hospital treatment and physiotherapy. Connor’s determination never wavered, however, and within six weeks he was back on the road, racking up a win and several other good results. This, and his previous strong performances, helped him secure a contract with professional road cycling team Madison Genesis last year. Since then, he has made debut appearances in both the Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour de Britain, featuring in breakaways at both events. “I enjoyed every minute of my first year with Madison Genesis in 2017,” Connor said. “I had a great season with some victories along the way, and I’m very motivated and excited to improve on that this season.”
Fresh from success at last month’s Tour de Normandie, where he came second in the last stage and 17th overall, Connor now has high hopes of being named as one of Madison Genesis’s riders in the upcoming Tour de Yorkshire – especially for the first stage on Thursday 3 May which passes through Sykehouse, Fishlake, Stainforth, Dunscroft and Hatfield and which will no doubt attract a huge number of local supporters willing Connor on to victory. “There aren’t many massive sporting events you can do within three or four miles of your home,” he observed. “It’s going to be a strange experience, but a great one.”
Whatever the result next month, Connor remains focused on being the best he can be. He plans to step up to pro-Continental level or higher within the next two years, and will then return to competing in triathlons in around 10 years’ time. He will always, however, be grateful for the opportunity offered to him as a young Trinity student, reflecting: “If I hadn’t been given the chance to do that first triathlon, I wouldn’t be where I am today!”
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