Adam Blythe (Omega-Pharma Lotto) is hoping to build on a successful first season with a strong start to his 2011 campaign. The Briton won four races in the space of a fortnight last year, including Circuit Franco-Belge and culminating in victory in Nationale Sluitingprijs - Putte-Kapellen.
The 21-year-old is currently at the team’s camp in Mallorca, Spain, where he told Cyclingnews that his season will be based around helping Philippe Gilbert in the Classics while having his own opportunities in smaller Belgian races where he has excelled in the past.
“Hopefully I’ll be riding all the Classics, from Het Volk up to Roubaix, if my form is good,” he told Cyclingnews.
Last year was Blythe’s debut in the professional ranks, and he quickly gained the respect of his teammates and especially Gilbert, who requested that the rider from Sheffield be selected ahead of more established riders for the Tour of Flanders.
“I did a good job at Gent-Wevelgem and then he personally asked for me to be in the team for Flanders and my performance there got me into the team for Roubaix.”
“I think I did a good job for Phil last season and I think he appreciates that and wants me this year as well. In each race I’ll start by his side from kilometre zero and carry on until I blow up.”
Once the Mallorca training camp concludes next week Blythe will head back to his base in Belgium before travelling south to train in Monaco with Gilbert. But his desire to help and be the dutiful teammate is coupled with his own aspirations to succeed and to win for himself.
“I think I can do well this year and I don’t think that last year’s success was down to luck. I can do just as well if not better this year,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I’m aiming at Belgian races because they suit me with the cold weather and the rain at the start of the season, but in any race I can do well I’ll try and be up there.”
Blythe was part of the British Cycling Academy earlier in his career but moved to pastures new after it because clear that he needed a change of environment.
“I was there for a brief time,” Blythe said.
His time at the Academy could have lead to a contract with Sky but the move gave Blythe more freedom to pursue his own aspirations of racing in Belgium and to leave the rigid structure of British Cycling aside.
“Sky is a good team and a British team and it would be nice to ride for them as a British rider, but I love the Belgian races and the way this team works it’s quite relaxed but they apply the pressure at the right time. I’m getting good help here and support,” Blythe told Cyclingnews.
“It was a mutual decision when I left the Academy. I sat down with a couple of guys and I said I think I can do it my own way and they let me go. The structure wasn’t right for me and I had my heart set on the road and being in Belgium, and they wanted me to go and live in Italy. I knew Belgium was good for me and there were and still are no regrets.”