C.A. Rhodes memorial award 2019

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Yorkshire cycling has formally recognised one of the most versatile and successful of the current generation of international road and track cyclists - Ben Swift.  The Award specifically recognises Ben's victory in the British Road Race Championship held on 30th June at Norwich.

The award is presented annually and previous recipients include high profile World and Olympic champions, such as Beryl Burton and Brian Robinson and more recently Lizzie Armitstead and Ed Clancy, in addition to administrators who make the sport and pastime so popular in Yorkshire. 

The Memorial was instigated in 1961 as a tribute to the memory of Charles Arthur Rhodes (1895-1961), doyen of the Yorkshire Road Club, co-founder in 1932 of the Yorkshire Cycling Federation and a nationally recognised timekeeper and administrator.  The award is regarded as the greatest distinction which Yorkshire cycling can bestow.

The Award citation reads as follows:

“Ben Swift is worthy of the 2019 Award, having achieved victory in the British Road Race Championship, the culmination of 12 years competing successfully as a World Tour professional.

Rotherham-born Ben, now aged 32, rode his first race aged 3 and after an early BMX career he rapidly made an impression in road and track races.  As his ability developed, he won track national junior championships and competed internationally.

Ben represented Great Britain in the 2008 Olympic road race and was 4th in the under-23 World Road Championship, then commenced his pro road career with Katusha.  He joined the newly formed Team Sky for 2010, winning the overall, points and young rider classifications and a stage of the Tour de Picardie; he followed this in 2011 with more stage wins in Spain, Switzerland, California and Australia.  Continuing to mix disciplines, in 2012 at the Melbourne Track World Championships he excelled with gold in the scratch race and silver in both the points race and the madison, before switching back to the road for more successes.

In the following years he collected more stage wins, was 2nd in the National Road Race Championship and achieved 3rd then 2nd places in Milan-San Remo; he also placed 5th in the World Road Championship in Norway.

After a 2-year spell riding for UAE, in 2019 he returned to Sky, then rebranded Team Ineos.  His season started badly after he sustained serious injuries on a pre-season training camp but coming into form later, he achieved a major ambition in winning the British Road Championship at Norwich.  He went into the World Road Championship at Harrogate as team leader and despite the diabolical weather conditions he displayed true Yorkshire grit to survive in front of his home supporters.

As a strong sprinter and domestique Ben has competed twice in all three Grand Tours - France, Italy and Spain.  He epitomises all that is admirable about Yorkshire racing cyclists and by his many achievements he has brought exceptional honour to Yorkshire.”

Ben resides in Sheffield, although his riding commitments with the all-conquering Team Ineos and as a member of the GB team take him all over the world.  His first race, when only 3, was a children's cyclo-cross at Rother Valley Country Park and he raced regularly throughout Yorkshire and beyond from that early age; he developed a passion for cycle racing, initially cyclo-cross and BMX, but then graduating to both road and track and he has enjoyed outstanding successes.  He won a track world championship in 2012 but can harness that track speed to the frantic dashes at the finish of international road races such as the European classics or the Grand Tours.

The C. A. Rhodes Award will be presented at the Yorkshire Cycling Federation annual luncheon, to be held on Sunday 23rd February 2020 at Pontefract.