Adam Blythe has signed for Lotto Soudal for the 2019 season, marking a return to the team where he began his professional career. The Briton has spent the past two years with the Aqua Blue Sport team, which abruptly disbanded at the end of the August.
Blythe spent 2010 and 2011 in the colours of Marc Sergeant’s team, then known as Omega Pharma-Lotto, having ridden as a stagiaire for the Belgian squad the previous year. He signalled his talent with victory at the Circuit Franco-Belge in 2010, and then followed team leader Philippe Gilbert to BMC ahead of the 2012 season.
“At the age of 20, I did an internship at Lotto Soudal – Omega Pharma-Lotto back then – and was able to join the WorldTour team afterwards. I’m really excited to return to the Belgian team and it’s definitely a real privilege to be racing for this renowned cycling team once again,” Blythe said in a statement released on Monday.
Still only 28 years of age, Blythe has already ridden for six teams over the course of his professional career. He dropped down to Continental level with NFTO in 2014 after leaving BMC, and victory in that year’s RideLondon Classic helped to secure a speedy return to WorldTour level.
After riding for Orica-GreenEdge in 2015, Blythe switched to Tinkoff the following year and claimed the British national title. When the team disbanded at the end of the season, he moved to nascent Irish Pro Continental outfit Aqua Blue Sport. Blythe’s lone victory in the colours of the Irish team came at the Elfstedenronde in June.
Blythe’s return to Lotto Soudal will see him team up with a former GreenEdge teammate. Caleb Ewan has been signed to replace André Greipel as Lotto’s sprinter, and Blythe will form part of his lead-out train.
“Bringing Caleb in the best position to sprint, will be my main role coming season. We already rode together [at Orica-GreenEdge], so I know him quite well. I hope to achieve new successes with him and believe we have a solid team to do so in 2019,” said Blythe, who will also bolster Lotto Soudal’s cobbled Classics squad.
“Even though I didn’t ride a complete Classics season for the last two years, I did ride those races many times before during my time at the other WorldTour teams. Next season will be my ninth year as a professional cyclist and through the years, I was able to gain a lot of experience, also in the Classics.”
The Aqua Blue Sport team announced its disbandment in late August and withdrew from all remaining races this season. Blythe is the third Aqua Blue Sport rider to sign for a WorldTour team since the squad's demise. Eddie Dunbar has signed for Team Sky with immediate effect, while Larry Warbasse will ride for AG2R La Mondiale in 2019.