As British neo-professional Adam Blythe counts down to the start of his first full season with Omega Pharma-Lotto, he’s expecting to use 2010 to lay the foundation for his professional career.
"Next year I'll have a better idea of what races suit me and I'll be able to pick out a few goals. At that stage I'll definitely be looking to get a few wins under my belt," the 20-year-old sprinter told Cyclingnews at his team's training camp in Majorca, Spain. "My goal is just to do the best I can really, I don't know how I'm going to be or how I'm going to do in the sprints so it's an open field really."
Blythe's two-year contract with Omega Pharma-Lotto followed a successful stint as a stagiaire with the squad at the end of the 2009 season. His brief experience of ProTour racing then has given him a taste of what he can expect, but has also served to temper his expectation of what he will have to do in order to succeed.
"It's good, it's a lot harder," he said. "The pace, everything is just that bit harder – when you head uphill things don’t tend to slow down. It's a bit like going from junior to amateur to professional again, but if you want to win obviously you have to work that bit harder."
In an era where English-speaking riders have made the leap from national development programmes to the professional peloton with ever increasing regularity, Blythe is an exception. Though a former member of the British Cycling academy, he left the setup in 2008 to pursue his own path through Belgium to the professional ranks.
"When I left the junior programme I was on the under-23 academy in England, things didn't go to well and I left there," he said. "I went to Belgium, joined a small team and moved up a level to Davo-Lotto. That team was a sort of feeder team and gave me the opportunity to ride as a stagiaire with Silence-Lotto.
"As a junior I always came over to Belgium as much as I could," he added. "I wanted to ride on the road and knew I could do well, so I thought 'give it a go, give it a shot'. I liked Belgium, I liked the style of racing so I decided that's where I'd be."
Blythe will continue to be based in Asch, Belgium, the country he has called home for the past few seasons. His love for the country and presence on a Belgian team will also ensure his 2010 race programme includes some of the country's big races.
"I'll be doing Gent-Wevelgem, I'd like to do the best I can at that, but we'll have to wait and see," he said. "None of the managers know what I'm capable of or what kind of rider I am, and as a first year rider I don't know what I can do in things."
Another race Blythe has earmarked in the early stages of the season will be the Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen. "I'd like to get up there for that," he said. "It's a sprinters race where Mark Cavendish won his first race. But any race I do I'd just like to give it my all, I can't ask for more than that."