“People think that all of a sudden we’re not one of the best teams in the world anymore, but we are" - Ben Swift debunks myth of INEOS Grenadiers decline

Although the INEOS Grenadiers may have seen their position as top dogs in the peloton overtaken by Team Visma | Lease a Bike in recent seasons, talk of the former Team Sky's demise is wide of the mark insists longtime servant Ben Swift.

“We are still performing, podiums in grand tours, nearly winning them. It’s not like we disappeared,” Swift, who was with the team in their 2010 origin, recently told Velo during the Tour Down Under. “People think that all of a sudden we’re not one of the best teams in the world anymore, but we are.”

Finishing second at the Giro d'Italia through Geraint Thomas in 2023 and with creditable performances from Carlos Rodriguez at the Tour de France, INEOS were there or thereabouts in the Grand Tours of 2023. Not since Egan Bernal at the 2021 Giro has a rider from the team stood on the top step of a Grand Tour podium however.

“The whole level’s come up, and that’s what we wanted at the start,” Swift explains. “You want the whole sport to grow and be more professional, and that brings in more money and it globalizes, but with that means just one team cannot dominate like we used to. It’s seen in one way that we are not performing any more, but most teams dream of achieving what we have achieved."

“At the end of the day, we want to win the Tour de France, and we haven’t done that in a couple of years. In those terms, they have,” Swift says of the rivalry with UAE Team Emirates and Team Visma | Lease a Bike in recent years. “They found something that we are not doing yet, some training methods, and they’ve found the winning formula. We had that goal of winning all three grand tours, but Visma beat us to it. Now we have to refocus and pull together. Different teams win, and then others come up. That’s sport.”

Likely to lead their Tour de France winning hopes in coming years are Carlos Rodriguez and Tom Pidcock. “We have to look to the future, and we have a lot of young guys. They need time. Not everyone can be a Remco or a Pogačar. They still need development,” Swift explains. “Not everyone can come in and win straight away.”

“We are still there, we are still challenging,” the Brit concludes. “Our ambition is still to win the Tour de France, along with everything else.”

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