What's Cool In Road Cycling

Catching Up With BMC’s Adam Blythe!

It seems to me that Adam Blythe has been around for ages. When I first interviewed him, we called him a “Young Gun” and since then he has gone from strength to strength to be riding alongside the Classics King, Philippe Gilbert. And yet, he is still only 22 years old. Blythe wants to be the next Zabel…and why not?

The last time I interviewed Adam Blythe he was at a training camp in Benidorm, Spain with his under 23 Belgian team; Davo-Lotto. Since then he moved up to the Omega Pharma-Lotto team, won a few races, got a contract with probably the richest team in cycling; BMC and moved from Belgium to Monaco. As you might expect, there were quite a few things to catch up with at the BMC training camp earlier this year.

It wasn’t that long ago that Adam Blythe was a top talent on the Belgian amateur scene.

PEZ: So what is life like in Monaco?

Adam Blythe: It’s alright; I’ve not been there really. It’s nice, but I’ve only been there for two weeks, max. I moved there on the 4th, and then I went to training camps, and then I went home for Christmas, then straight to the Tour Down Under, and now I’ve just got back here. I moved to Monaco for the training, and it’s more of an investment really at the moment. Also Phil (Philippe Gilbert) is there, and there are a few other guys from the team, plus Froomy (Chris Froome of Sky) is down there and for the weather. Not sure if Boonen is still there, I heard he’d left, but it might be a lie.

PEZ: So since the last time I interviewed you not much has changed then?

Adam: No, maybe a bit more stubble! That’s about it really. It’s good, I think it shows you can do it. The British Academy is a good way of doing it, but it shows if your face doesn’t fit that program and you don’t get in that academy, you can always try another way. You don’t have to base your career going through British Cycling; you can try your own way. I think it’s good that I’ve shown it’s worked, and you can do it if you really want it, then its possible.

PEZ: I spoke to Dan McLay last year; he was doing what you had done two years previously. He won a couple of races straight away.

Adam: Jesus, he was flying! He lived fairly close to me. He’s a good guy, and he’s staying with the same team this year, the same one I was with. He’ll be with the Pro’s in the next couple of years. He’s a good rider.

PEZ: What is your role in the BMC team?

Adam: That depends on which races, to be honest. I’ll be riding Qatar (2nd on a stage, 10th overall) and Oman and then Kuurne (16th – same time as Cavendish), followed by Paris-Nice then Wevelgem, and then we will see from there which big Classics. It’s going to be hard to get in the Classics team. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it, and I want to be there, so I just have to put the hard work in.

PEZ: So you’ll ride Kuurne instead of Het Neuwsblad?

Adam: I think Kuurne now is more for the sprinty guys that can ride a Classic. The last few years it’s been a sprint. I won it as junior, which was nice. I want to be going well for it but not peaking, I want to be firing on all cylinders for Flanders, so we will see.

PEZ: Would you be peaking for the Classics?

Adam: Yea, spring and autumn. I don’t know yet what I’ll be doing in the autumn, but I wouldn’t be riding the Vuelta. We go to Flanders and Roubaix and then see what happens then. I hope to ride Roubaix, but I won’t know until probably before Flanders, not for awhile yet, anything can happen between now and then.

PEZ: So what are you looking forward to?

Adam: Winning again! Well that’s why I’m doing it; I don’t think any cyclist would be in the sport if they didn’t want to win. That’s the main thing everyone wants to do and you get the most satisfaction from winning yourself, and that’s what I’m hoping to do this year and that is what I’m looking forward to doing.

PEZ: Is there a big difference between your last team; Omega Pharma-Lotto and BMC?

Adam: Yea, It’s different altogether, I think in all bike teams it’s the same, but here the riders are a bit more relaxed, a bit more chilled-out, there’s not as much pressure. Whereas at Lotto, everything was always forced upon you, but here you know what you have to do and people want you to do that and want to help you. At Lotto, they also wanted you to do well, but there was the pressure. Here it’s more developed, it’s a huge team.

PEZ: Are you going to be in the shadow of Philippe Gilbert?

Adam: I think he is in a league of his own. Even with all the riders in the peloton, he can show what he wants. He can time trial, he can sprint, he can climb, he can do everything. It’s a case of the guys being around him (in the team) just to save his energy, as much as possible, until the time when he does what he wants to do, and then he buggers off!

PEZ: What would your job be?

Adam: The last few times I’ve looked after him and made sure he was OK. If he needed anything in the first part of the race I’ll do it for him, but hopefully I would go further in the race and stay with him as long as I can. I think the longer he has help, the longer he has someone working for him, laying him up to launch his big attack later in the race. Just make it easier for him, obviously if the team wins it’s better for us. At the moment I’m not strong enough to do that and there are nine, ten or eleven Classics riders who can do that, so it will be hard to get in the team.

Blythe winning at Putte-Kappellen in 2010.

PEZ: The end of the season 2010 was probably the best time of your career?

Adam: Yes, for sure it was good I think, last year it didn’t go so well, nothing really gelled, maybe lack of motivation. Lotto had found out early I was coming here, so it wasn’t so good then, but I guess that’s how it works and there nothing much you can do about it. So hopefully it will be like a couple of years ago and just go from there and keep building I hope.

PEZ: Will there be days when you will get your chance?

Adam: Yea, in the Tour Down Under the guys were working for me in the sprints, but I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was and I was just not good enough to be honest. I need to step-up the training a bit and work harder and hopefully it will come, that’s all I can do.

On the top step of the podium with the late Wouter Weylandt.

PEZ: This year’s Worlds wouldn’t really suit you, but would there be a problem for you to get a place on a Great Britain squad?

Adam: I don’t really think I’ll get in the Worlds; it’s as hilly as hell! I’m still on speaking terms, I’m in contact, but I would have to prove myself. It’s like anything when you are doing something right you get picked for the teams.

PEZ: What about the future, how do you see yourself?

Adam: Yea, sort of like Zabel; Classics and getting up there in the sprints, hopefully, not for a few years. There’s no pressure, I’m still young so I’ve got time.

That’s three years worth of catching up with “Young Gun” Adam Blythe, the next Erik Zabel or Philippe Gilbert? He’s a talented rider, for sure, but more importantly, he’s a nice guy!

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