Adam Blythe Interview: “It’s ridiculous how many Worlds bands there are on people’s shoulders”
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Adam Blythe Interview: “It’s ridiculous how many Worlds bands there are on people’s shoulders”

by Ben Atkins at 3:07 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
BMC Racing’s British sprinter looking for more consistent form as he races in the rainbow jersey team

adam blytheAdam Blythe is beginning his second season as a member of the BMC Racing Team in 2013, with hopes of building on a strong 2012. The 24-year-old Yorkshireman finished last season as he begun it, with some strong sprinting against some of the World’s biggest names but, as he explained to VeloNation during the Revolution 39 at the Manchester Velodrome earlier this month, Blythe would like to have had more consistency in the middle of the year.

“I think, at the end of the season I was going really good,” he explained. “I had really good form, so - I don’t know... I think I just need to plan my training a bit more, put some more specific stuff in and - hopefully - how I was going at the end of the year, I can go all year; if not better.

“I was happy with it, but not satisfied,” he smiled. “But that’s the way it is I suppose.”

His strong end of season form saw Blythe take second places in Omloop van het Houtland-Lichtervelde and the Tournai stage of the Circuit Franco-Belge in late September, and victory in the Binche-Tournai-Binche/Memorial Frank Vandenbroucke in early October. Poor results in the summer, largely caused by the thigh injury that saw him abandon the Tour de Suisse in June, make these good results a little frustrating for the British rider.

“It’s good but, it’s just a bit like you wish it could have been three months earlier, you know, and so you could have carried the good form. But yeah, that’s racing…” he shrugged.

Blythe’s 2013 season should begin in a similar way to 2012, although the 24-year-old will not be part of the BMC Racing Team’s squad for the Santos Tour Down Under this time.

“I’ve got Qatar, Oman, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and then see how we go from there really,” he explained. “I’ve just got to prove myself, and show that I’m going well, and that if I want to win some races I can win some races. I’ve done my programme to try and show that I’m up for it, so hopefully I’ll be on good form, and we’ll see for the Classics and things.”

Last year’s Tour of Qatar saw Blythe come close to his first victory of the season, as he was narrowly edged out by Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Tom Boonen on the first stage. The Belgian went on to take one more stage, and his fourth overall victory in the Gulf race, on his way to an outstanding Cobbled Classics season; this, in many ways puts Blythe’s performance in what has become almost like Boonen’s own race into perspective.

“I think that with Qatar it’s just positioning, that’s all it is,” Blythe reasoned. “People say you need a lot of power, you do need a little bit; I’m not a powerful guy at all, but it’s just about hiding and getting your sprint right, before the corner, before the crosswind part.

“It’s just a placing thing really, but hopefully I’ll be able to creep up on him [Boonen] a bit this year, see how I’m going,” he added. “Try and get in that echelon first.”

This year’s Qatar race is likely to see a combined attack from Boonen and new Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate Mark Cavendish. The Manxman took his first victories in the rainbow jersey in the race last year, and will almost certainly be the number one sprinter for the Belgian team whenever he races this season; despite this, however, Blythe still sees Boonen as the one to watch in Qatar.

“I think that with Qatar, Cav can go for stages, but I don’t think you can argue with Tom being there,” Blythe said. “I think, it’s the first race of the year, I think Cav will try and get a stage win - obviously - but I don’t think Cav’ll be knocking on the back door for the overall as well.

“We’ll see.”

Riding alongside the rainbow

This season Blythe will be riding alongside Philippe Gilbert for a fourth straight year - as they rode together at Omega Pharma-Lotto for two years - but, instead of the black, yellow and red jersey of Belgian champion that he wore for the first half of last year, the 30-year-old will be wearing the rainbow jersey of World champion.

This will not be the first time that Blythe has been in the World champion’s team however, as he joined what was then Silence-Lotto in the closing months of 2009.

“I stagiaired when Cadel [Evans] was World champion,” he confirmed.

Gilbert’s rainbow jersey makes him the fourth rider in the BMC Racing Team to feature the iconic stripes on his jersey, as four of the last five champions call the team their home.

“It’s ridiculous how many Worlds bands there are on people’s shoulders - how many there are in the team,” Blythe laughed. “There’s Cadel, Thor [Hushovd], [Alessandro] Ballan, Gilbert, and that’s it I think, but normally there’s just one guy in the team that has that.

“We’ve got a lot of people with it in our team; it is special to ride with them, very special,” he added. “The Classics team is pretty jam-packed full of them to be honest, but it’s good.”

Although Blythe has been a teammate of Gilbert’s for so many years, however, both riders have very different characteristics, and so may not ride together much in the coming season.

“I’m not sure,” Blythe said. “I don’t know what his programme is, to be honest. The first race we’ll do together is Oman, so that’ll be good fun.”

After Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Blythe will be looking towards the Cobbled Classics, whereas Gilbert’s strength lies in the later Ardennes races; this doesn’t mean that the two riders miss each other entirely, however, but all is still to be decided.

“I don’t know. I think he’ll do a few, like Flanders - he’s still not won it - and things like that,” said Blythe. “So I think I’ll do a few races with him, but - as you say - different programmes.”

Wishing Alessandro Ballan a speedy recovery

One of the four rainbow riders at the BMC Racing Team faces the most uncertain season of all though, with Alessandro Ballan only just released from hospital after a terrible training camp crash. The Italian, who took the rainbow jersey in Varese, in his home country in 2008, underwent surgery to have his spleen removed, and to pin a fractured femur, and it is not yet clear when - or if - he will return to the sport.

“I don’t know, to be honest,” said Blythe. “I think the main thing is for him to get recovered as quickly as possible, and get training and things… I don’t really know much about it; I know he’s got a broken leg and he’s just trying to get better, but I think the main thing for him is just that he’s lucky that he’s alive… with the crash that he had, he’s just lucky to be alive, so I think that’s the main thing for him.

“Get better, get on his bike, get back to it, get to the day job again,” he added. “I think that’s just what he wants to do.”

Ballan’s injuries notwithstanding, the spirit at the BMC Racing Team on the even of the 2013 season is high, with the now established line up enjoying a good team spirit, according to Blythe.

“Very good, yeah,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of new guys in there, but it’s always a good laugh. It’s not really that you go to a race and there’s a bad vibe; it’s always good, everyone’s happy - every race that I’ve done anyway - everyone’s having a good laugh.

“They’re good fun,” he concluded. “Speak to the right people at the right time and you’ll have a good interview I think!”


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