Mixed emotions for Swift after second place in Milan-Sanremo

Standing behind the podium for the second time in three seasons, Swift admitted that coming so close to the victory was a bittersweet moment.

“Obviously it’s quite disappointing to get second – so close to the win,” he told TeamSky.com. “That said I’ve got to be happy and I’m back on the podium in a Monument. I’m slowly chipping away. We’ve had a second, a third and we’ll keep on trying in the next few years.

“The team was brilliant today. Unfortunately we lost Pete (Kennaugh) and Geraint (Thomas) in that crash. It was a super stressful day and we lost a lot of horsepower there. We rode a great attacking race and we did what we wanted to do. When Ian went on the Cipressa it set it up perfectly. Then Michal went on the Poggio so we couldn’t have done it any better.

“I just tried to stay as relaxed as possible in the last kilometre and I tried to follow Jurgen Roelandts. Last year I think I stressed a little bit too much. This year I was a bit more relaxed. I was close to a crash at the finish there but it is what it is.”

Eventually crossing the line on his own in 40th, Kwiatkowski was painfully aware how close he’d come to staying away. “I attacked and tried to gain an advantage before the descent,” he confirmed. “I was going full gas to the finish. I think we can be happy with second place with Ben. It was a really difficult, nervous last 50-60 kilometres.

“The race really starts before the Capis. Everyone was trying to get to the front, and with the weather this year the whole bunch were there fighting.

“We all committed to go for the win. I was not too far away at the end. Stannard was in a great move on the Cipressa, I was there on the Poggio and then Swifty was waiting for the sprint.

“We had a few ways to try and win the race and that is what Milan-San Remo is all about. You have to try with a few options as sometimes there are crashes and you don’t know what is going to happen or control the situation.”

Team Sky had kept their powder dry for much of the mammoth event, sitting in the pack before moving forward in a nervy peloton on the approach to the decisive climbs. Despite riding up front Geraint Thomas’ bad luck in the Monuments continued, with the Welshman taken down in a crash on the approach to the Cipressa with 30km to go.

Pete Kennaugh was also caught up in the sizeable spill, which also held up Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and eventual race winner Demare.