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Ben Swift takes lead at Tour de Picardie

Team Sky's Ben Swift leads the Tour de Picardie after winning stage 2.

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Ben Swift (Team Sky) kicked to victory in Saturday’s second stage at the Tour de Picardie in France to hold the lead going into Sunday’s finale.

Swift held off a charge from Alan Davis (Astana) while Russell Downing (Team Sky) came across the line third to make it an Anglo podium in the French race.

Four riders peeled away early in the 186km run from Friville to Cires-les-Mello to build a four-minute lead, but the sprint teams moved forward to neutralize the aggression and set up the mass gallop.

Swift did not disappoint and lived up to his name, earning the young Brit his first win on the 2010 season a day after finishing second in Friday’s opener. Overnight leader Kenny van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) missed a cut in the pack in the final kilometer and ceded the leader’s jersey to Swift.

“It’s all thanks to them (teammates) really, the guys have been amazing,” Swift said on the team’s website. “They did an awesome job with the leadout and from what I hear there were only about 10 guys left at the end.”

Swift goes into Sunday’s finale nursing a 10-second lead over Davis with Downing third at 12 seconds. meaning that it will have to be a breakaway if they want to steal away the leader’s jersey from Team Sky.

Sunday’s final stage is a 174.5km race from Crépy-en-Valois to Sissonne.