Ben Swift, INEOS Grenadiers & Yorkshire
Ben Swift has been riding at the top level of world cycling for many years. From his home on the edge of the Peak District National Park, this likeable and seemingly always smiling Yorkshireman has ridden in all the great cycling races, from the spring classics to the grand tours, and is a firmly established and well-respected member of the pro peloton. In 2012, he became Great Britain’s first UCI World Scratch Race Champion, then going on to win several British national titles. Turning professional in 2007, he won the ‘King of the Mountains’ jersey at that year’s Tour of Britain and has been active in the world’s best cycling teams ever since.
Behind the scenes, Ben still lives in his home county of Yorkshire, with his young family, benefitting from the awesome local cycling scene and culture, where many of his pro cycling contemporaries also live and train. When you look at his cycling palmares, Ben is ideally placed to lead the way for us here at Lake, as one of our new global cycling ambassadors, wearing our latest cycling shoes as he heads into the 2024 season. I caught up with Ben recently, as he headed to the Tour Down Under in Australia. We talked about his cycling journey, from a boyhood passion, to being an integral part of the team at INEOS Grenadiers, and his thoughts on wearing the world’s best cycling shoes.
Me, my bike and I...
‘Growing up, I had several small bikes, but the first real road bike was a made to measure Dave Marsh. It had those down shifters on the frame and was a proper retro bike – a real blast from past. I can still remember it fondly now; bikes have moved on so much since those days, as has the kit and equipment. My first cycling club was the club at Mossley Cycle Racing Team in Manchester, meaning that I had to travel over the Pennines from Sheffield and Yorkshire – I know! However, I’m still the club president and I’m a great believer in the U.K. club scene as a foundation for developing young riders.’
With so much travel involved in his job, and the opportunities for riding all over the world, I asked him about his favourite ride. After all, he’s probably ridden in more places than almost anyone. Speaking with Ben, he’s a very humble person, and relates to me how privileged he feels.
‘My favourite ride is a really difficult one, as there are so many cool places that I can think of. I’m really lucky, being able to travel and to ride all over the world. I guess it’s somewhere with sun, a few hills and nice scenery – I'm spoilt for choice.’
When it comes to that obvious question for all cyclists: hills or flat, it’s the hills that get the ticks for Ben. As he says himself, and coming from Yorkshire, it’s no surprise – what goes up, must come down. The enjoyment of descending a good hill is something special, when you’ve worked hard on the climb. In terms of cafe stops when training, all cyclists have those extra special ride stops, and Ben is no different. However, he has more than most of us to choose from. His own personal favourite though is close to home, and within the British Isles. The Isle of Man is of course famous for producing exceptional cyclists; and the Noah Bakehouse on the island, also creates delicious pastries, such as their almond croissant, which is amazing with a coffee, placing them at the top of Ben’s cycling cafe stop list – pastries obviously limited during the race season, of course!
Riding the pro peloton
From the many years that Ben has spent in the pro peloton, cycling at the highest level and riding alongside some of the sports all-time greats, there’s one memory that stands out – and it’s quite inspirational to listen to him recounting it. His voice changes, and there’s subtle pauses as he talks. Having watched the Tour de France as a kid, he still gets goose bumps when he tells me of the feeling that he had on reaching Paris in The Tour, and hitting the atmosphere as he rode through the city and onto the Champs Elysee for the first time. It was one of those breathtaking moments in life, when we have to pinch ourselves, and it’s clear how much being a cyclist means to Ben, and why he gives his all in every race.
Coming from Yorkshire, with its rich cycling heritage, Ben clearly has a love for the region. I get that and understand it, as my own home sits neatly on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It continues to produce exceptional talent like Ben, Lizzie Deignan and Tom Pidcock, to name a few. The scenery is second to none, and the energy of the cycling community alongside the club runs, it takes you to a new level as you ride some of the best cycling roads in the world. Ben recalls riders such as Malcom Elliott, who inspired him as he began his cycling journey in God’s own County – Yorkshire. It’s region that still has so many pro riders living and riding within its boundaries, continuing to make the local cycling scene uniquely challenging and exciting.
One question that my own son, Ben, asked of Ben (Swift) was this, and it’s a great question: if you could ride in any era, which would it be and why. Pausing to answer this, Ben reflected and then answered. ‘It would have to be this current era. It’s so well developed and professional now, with so many opportunities and so much technology going into producing brilliant bikes and equipment that make riding so much fun. Add to this, the wealth of talent riding and racing in this era, with some of the greatest riders of all-time competing in the same peloton. The sport 50 years ago wasn’t as professionally organised. There’s been so much growth, and it continues to grow positively, and is a more serious sport these days.’
Riding swiftly wrapped in Lake shoes
Ben Swift is at heart, just a great kid from Yorkshire who loves riding bikes. Like so many other cyclists too, he’s had some foot issues along the way, which is why he now trusts Lake shoes to look after his feet. After all, they’re his tools of the trade, and second-best is not an option. Talking with Ben at length, he tells me how he loves the variety of the Lake brand, with so many different models to choose from. It’s also great to hear it when he says that he also likes the people behind the brand, their friendliness and superb support, working closely with him to find the right fit – and it’s paying off, as Ben is hitting the numbers, with his new Lake shoes.
Talking about this, Ben is clear that the stiffness and fit of the shoe adds significantly to his performance on the bike and has that all-important comfort. He’s currently using our Lake CX302, which is the ultimate light weight climbing shoe without sacrificing comfort, secure fit or power transfer. Utilizing Clarino microfiber, dual BOA® Li2 dials and Lake’s Handmade CFC 3K carbon fiber sole, you have a cycling slipper that weighs an amazing 195 grams (size 44, not including the insole). Ben has also used our CX403 and the CX333 in training and speaks highly of all the models. Importantly though, he says how important it is to get the right fit and the right shoe for your own unique feet, and the value of speaking to one of our Lake shoe fitting experts.
Ride into your own cycling future – with Lake
We’re delighted to have Ben on-board our team here at Lake, helping us to drive shoe technology and innovation, in our pursuit of excellence. Cycling is a sport where riders are always looking for those marginal gains, and where they can become the best cycling version of themselves. Ultimately, we’rehere to try and support everyone in that quest, by wrapping all riders, at all levels in the golden trilogy of cycling shoe comfort, high performance and style.