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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Adam Blythe (NFTO) is the day's winner
NFTO rider targetting Tour of Britain stage victories
After spending just over half a season on the British domestic scene, Adam Blythe (NFTO) hopes that his recent victory at RideLondon Classic will be enough to help him make the step back up to WorldTour level.
"I’m just trying to get myself back into the game and be given a chance to show that I’m still here, and I’m still here to ride my arse off. Hopefully someone will see that and want to take me on," Blythe told Cyclingnews after returning to his home in Monaco. "They’re (NFTO) still a good team, but I do want to be riding at that top level, so I am hoping to get a contract."
Last Sunday, Blythe beat Ben Swift (Team Sky) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC) to take victory at the RideLondon Classic. The British rider was hoping for a bunch sprint, but found himself in the right place when his former teammate Gilbert split the bunch.
Blythe struggled to stick with the lead group on some of the more challenging parts of the course, and credited his childhood friend Swift with bringing Gilbert back in the final 20 kilometres. RideLondon is the biggest win of Blythe's career but he says that they way he won it was more important.
"The thing that I was most happy about was the way that I won it out of a small group, instead of just a normal sprint. I wasn’t just riding around and hiding in the wheels," he explained. "Personally, doing that was probably the best ride I’ve done and the best race I’ve won."
A year of discovery
Blythe joined the British Continental team NFTO at the beginning of this season, after leaving BMC with a year still left to run on his contract. It was a move that took many by surprise. Blythe turned professional with Omega Pharma-Lotto in 2010 and moved to BMC two years later.
In 2013, he finished his first Grand Tour, at the third time of asking, at the Giro d’Italia. However, Blythe hardly raced after that and seemed to lose his way among the American team’s big-name stars. The move back to domestic racing has given him some much-needed perspective.
"I had a year to get myself back on track and get myself back to where I am now," he said to Cyclingnews. "I’ve been finding myself a bit as a rider and trying to prove to the rest of the world what I could do, because I think that there were a few people out there that doubted me. Hopefully they’ll see now that I am a good bike rider."
Despite being a professional for four seasons, plus a year at Continental level, Blythe is still only 24. While he is one of the more experienced riders at NFTO, Blythe accepts that he still has a lot to learn. He believes that the best move would be to ply his trade as a lead-out man.
"I’ve showed that I can win races, but it would be nice to go into a team and help someone. I think it would help me in my career. To get myself back on track by helping someone and being picked to go to races to help someone," he said.
After beating some of the best at RideLondon, Blythe’s next focus will be the Tour of Britain, which starts in Liverpool on September 7. He will be looking for stage wins and hopes that a good performance there will earn him a spot at the World Championships, and a chance to return the favour and help fellow Yorkshireman Swift take home a medal.