Yorkshire rider Adam Blythe first grabbed the big headlines when he won two stages and the GC in the 2010 Circuit Franco-Belge; a UCI 2.1 stage race with a history stretching back to 1924.
Blythe became one of the youngest-ever winners in the event, beating Sep Vanmarcke (Topsport Vlaanderen) by six seconds and Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) by seven.
The superb victory came towards the end of his first full pro season with the Omega Pharma Lotto team, which initially signed him as a stagiare in 2009.
Their interest in the-then Konica Minolta rider was due to a string of top placings in Belgium plus a win in stage seven of the Thuringen Rundfahrt in Germany.
During the 2010 season he settled in well.
He was fifth on a stage during his Giro debut, and had strong placings in races like the GP Fourmies (4th) and Omloop van het Houtland (3rd) indicated that the Sheffield man was rapidly finding his feet.
But it was his Franco-Belge triumph which confirmed his arrival at the highest level.
Notably, his first stage win was achieved the day before his 21st birthday.
And to prove the wins were no flash in the pan, he also won the 2010 UCi 1.1 Nationale Sluitingrijs that year.
In his second season with Lotto there was a string of placings – second on a stage of the Franco-Belge and third on GC in the Ronde van Drenthe and third at Houtem, but no wins.
Moving to ‘super team,’ BMC for 2012 he scored two wins – stage one of Paris-Corréze and the UCi 1.1 Memorial Vandenbroucke, Binche-Tournai-Binche as well as a string of top placings such as second in the 1.1 Omloop van het Houtland to Marcel Kittel and third in the 1.1 Handzame Classic to Francesco Chicchi.
Blythe first showed his ability at a very young age, beating some of Britain’s best senior track riders at just 14 years old.
It was apparent that he was a very talented young man, but it’s sometimes the case that precocious talent which burns too brightly, too soon, is extinguished by the time the senior ranks are reached.
However this hasn’t the case with Blythe.
He was on the British World Class Performance Plan and was a member of the GB team pursuit squad which won the European Championships in 2006 and 2007.
Paired with Peter Kennaugh, he also won the U23 race at the Gent Six in 2007.
He then decided that ‘the plan’ was not for him, and instead joined South African Continental squad Konica-Minolta.
In 2008 and 2009, he picked up wins in Belgium’s Schaal Indeku Hulshout and a stage in the Tour of Hong Kong – all helping towards his stagiaire ride with Lotto.
This winter saw him lineup for the “Sixday Nights of Zürich” where VeloVeritas took the opportunity to get his thoughts on the winter boards as well as his road career.
What do you think of the winter tracks?
“But it’s good fun and I’m enjoying it – I’ll be starting racing soon so it’s good to start early.
“The leg speed takes a bit of getting used to, though – holding 140 rpm for an hour at a time.”
How have you gelled with Wim Stroetinga?
“I think I’m lucky to have been partnered with him.
“He’s ridden quite a few Sixes and knows the score – he keeps me right, telling me when to attack and when to sit still.”
Some of the teams look a tad hairy?
“There’s a disparity in abilities with local riders in with the big boys – but it’s a great opportunity for the lesser teams.”
How did you get the ride?
“BMC is a Swiss company and it’s a Swiss team; they wanted a presence in the race – so I was happy to do it.
“And the casino Wim and I are sponsored by is owned by Andy Rhys’ brother!
“Anyway, it’s a good start to my season.”
Are the Sixes something you’d like to ride more of?
“I think so; I might try and ride a few more with Ben Swift during season 13/14.
“Ben had a great Worlds on the track but has a back injury after crashing; which means he couldn’t hand sling.”
You’ve had your winter break?
“Yeah, I had three weeks off with no bike, in October.
“I did a bit of running – but it feels good to be back on the bike, even though I over did it the first week back.”
You started this season, early.
“Yes at the Tour Down Under, but it didn’t do me any harm.”
Qatar was good for you.
“I was second to Boonen on the first stage but punctured at 3.2 K to go on another stage – if I’d punctured another 200 metres later then I’d have got the same time as the group and made the GC podium.
“It was a good race to ride though; it really opens your legs up.”
You won a stage in Paris-Corréze.
“That’s not a huge race, but a win is a win.
“There was a finishing circuit which we did three or four times; with a chicane at 300 to go – I made sure I was first out of it on the last lap, nice and simple!”
And the Memorial Vandenbroucke.
“I think that’s my best win, so far.
“It was a tough day, pissing rain – a real hard day out!
“It wasn’t the usual, ‘let the break go and then control it’ kind of a day. There was a break which I jumped across to and then attacked on my own over the cobbles with 700 metres to go.
“In the photo it looks like I’ve won a bunch sprint because the peloton was right behind me.”
And you’ve had a lot of high placings.
“Yeah, that’s just a bastard!”
I don’t remember seeing you at the National Champs?
“I was there but quit after two laps; I was still suffering from an injury I picked up at the Tour de Suisse.”
Tour Down Under to Paris-Tours; that’s a long season.
“Yeah, but it’s good – I didn’t really have a break, maybe one week off, mid-season and for some reason I usually go well at the end of the season.
“Maybe it’s because everyone else isn’t training as hard…”
Lotto, old school Belgian ethos; BMC, US new boys…
“I raced more with Lotto because at that time I was living in Belgium.
“BMC is good because you have a mix of very experienced guys like Cadel Evans, Phil Gilbert and Thor Hushovd; but also young up and coming guys like Taylor Phinney, Tejay van Garderen and me.
“That’s one of the reasons I chose it; it’s a great team to develop on.”
That’s my next question, apart from the financial aspect, what do you look for in a team?
“A good race programme, a good DS – and it may sound daft, but a good bike – it’s nice to ride a top class machine!”
And you’re in Monaco, these days?
“I moved because the weather is so much better for training – and there are good guys to ride with.
“I train with Phil Gilbert, Thor Hushovd and the GreenEdge guys, like Simon Gerrans.”
Are you ‘old school’ or ‘scientific’ in training?
“I think that scientific stuff is more if you want to be a time triallist or stage race rider for GC – it’s more for riders like Bradley Wiggins, Tejay and Cadel.
“It’s OK looking at your SRM to see how many watts you’re developing; but it’s not going to tell you how to win a sprint finish – you need to use your head for that!”
It’s long hours in the rain, then?
“I’m fine with the hours – but I’m not so sure about them being in the rain!”
Do you have a coach?
“Until now, I’m self coached – but Max Sciandri has started helping me and we’ll be talking more, next season.
“We’ll discuss things at the two Spanish training camps – we have one in December and another in January.”
Lastly Adam, 2013?
“Prepare properly for the Giro, finish that and a minimum of five wins – I think that’s possible if I get my training right.”