Doncaster's Connor Swift gets head start with solo Tour de Yorkshire

What does a former British road race champion do when his sport is on hold and the lockdown protocals ease?

Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 11:44 am
Connor Swift leaves Skipton. Picture by Simon Wilkinson/

He goes out on his bike and rides the four stages of the postponed Tour de Yorkshire route, of course.

That is what Doncaster’s Connor Swift has been doing this week.

As soon as Prime Minister Boris Johnson allowed people to exercise freely but with social-distancing maintained, 24-year-old Swift saw that as kilometre-zero for his trek around Yorkshire.

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Starting on Wednesday, the 2018 British champion who rides for French pro-continental team Arkea-Samsic, rode stage one of what would have been the 2020 Tour de Yorkshire route from Beverley to Redcar.

On Thursday, he rode the shorter second stage from Skipton to Leyburn, yesterday was Barnsley to Huddersfield and today he will set out from Halifax, aping the final, climbing- heavy stage into Leeds.

“It’s a bit of a laugh, a bit of something different,” says Swift.

“Since coming into lockdown it’s been difficult to maintain the form and the hours.

“It can be difficult training when you don’t know when the next races are going to be.

“I’ve bought a new house which has been a distraction. I had a week off the bike to work on getting the house ready.

“But once I got back onto the bike I wanted something to get my teeth into. Obviously you can’t do group rides or chain gangs, so I just thought why not do the Tour de Yorkshire?”

His only companion is his girlfriend, who is acting as driver, support staff and chief mechanic. They have been chronicling Swift’s journey on social media.

When the race does take place for real, likely to be next Spring but not confirmed, Swift – ninth on the general classification in 2019 – has a head start on the field.

“I thought stage one was going to be flatter than it was and didn’t think it would be as difficult, but it gets quite lumpy going out of Whitby on to Redcar,” he says.

“It took me five hours 40 minutes in those head winds.

“Fortunately, Thursday was a much nicer day on the road from Skipton to Leyburn.

“It’s hard, though, almost like you’re out on a solo breakaway for the entirety of the day.”