Blythe thriving with Orica-GreenEdge

After two top ten finishes in the opening two days of the Tour of Qatar, Adam Blythe could be forgiven for putting any of his pre-race nerves to one side.

The race marks Blythe's first event for a WorldTour team since he left BMC at the end of 2013 but the GreenEdge sprinter has hit the ground running on his return to the top of the sport with 7th place in two sprint finishes.

Last season the 25-year-old was forced to drop from the WorldTour and ride for the NFTO domestic squad in the United Kingdom. The signing was certainly a coup for the team but it was also a backward step for Blythe, who has impressed in a number of the Classics in previous years.

However his one step backwards may have paved the way for a new phase, a rejuvenation, for the still talented rider. In Blythe, Orica have a rider capable of winning a number of races and his one year deal is aimed at ensuring he remains on the rails throughout the season.

"I'm glad to be back and I'm happy to be getting stuck in. I just want to make the most of things, ride well and then get a good Classics campaign under my belt. I don't want to come out of the spring unhappy," he told Cyclingnews on the eve of the race.

"The aim for the season has to be to try and get my head down and then try and re-sign," he added.

In order to do just that Blythe will have to show a level of consistency he has not yet displayed at the top level. His first season as a pro rider under Marc Sergeant's guidance at Lotto was certainly a success.

He won two stages and the overall at Franco Belge and dipped his toes into the water at the Grand Tour level with a ride at the Giro d'Italia.

A year later he was promoted up the ranks and formed part of Philippe Gilbert's bodyguard in the Spring Classics. His physical approach and willingness to get stuck in impressed Gilbert to the point where he helped Blythe move with him to BMC.

"He didn't ask to bring me over but he did put me in touch with them and from there they were interested in me. It went from there but that first year with Lotto was probably the best year I've had at pro level.

"I think that was because I was young and I had no expectations. I was just doing what I loved and getting stuck into it. The atmosphere in that team was unbelievable. I didn't realise how good it was until I left."

At BMC Blythe failed to truly settle. There were a handful of wins, one of which came in Qatar in 2013, but by the end of the season BMC had seen enough and for whatever reason decided that the rider would not be kept on.

"I don't think I was missing motivation. It's just that in the last year at BMC I was just never racing and the races I was going to were just late minute call-ups. There was no real structure to my programme but here I have a bit more structure and I'm just going to focus on the races I can do well in."

GreenEdge are a team at the top of the sport but Blythe believes that their structure and more relaxed approach suits him down to the ground. He says that part of the reason he failed to fulfill his potential at BMC was down to the atmosphere within the team.

"I think there's more responsibility [for me here] but there's also less stress on the whole of the team. I think that at BMC it was good to have one Gilbert or Van Avermaet but there's so much stress on the team and there were so many riders who could be in that team for a race that you were never certain unless you were one of the leaders," he told Cyclingnews.

"So I was always going to the races but then not racing. Then being told to stay in Belgium for a month because there might be a race I might have to do. The programme was always changing at the last minute. That was a head fuck."

It's that Blythe is bitter about his time with BMC. He understand that the two year stint was a learning experience, just like the one he picked up racing in the United Kingdom. However Blythe is a rider with a character that hasn't thrived under concrete structures and just like riders, teams have personalities too. Some fit together, some don't.

"BMC were a great team. They still are but I think there was just so much emphasis on things that didn't need emphasising on. It was hard to relax. It tried so hard to be a relaxed environment but it was everything but. There was so much stress. There were guys in there like Gilbert and Hushovd and if they didn't perform it was even more stress. It wasn't a great atmosphere for me to be honest."

The year in the domestic ranks allowed Blythe to refocus his energies and his superb win in RideLondon alerted a number of team’s to his availability.

"We were talking a bit before with a few teams but then after RideLondon that sealed it.

"It wasn't to do with money or anything like that. It was more to do with the structure of the programme and how they laid it out to me.

"For me personally it's about enjoying what you're doing. I know that it's a job and that I need to be professional but I think there's a fun side of it to. We got into bike riding because it was fun and when you get into such a structure, which you do need, but sometimes you can forget about the fun side. That's what I need really, a good atmosphere. GreenEdge has that for sure.”

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