I’m happy to report that it’s the latter and Adam Blythe has just signed a two year contract with Silence-Lotto; his first race alongside ‘campione del mondo’ team mate, Cadel Evans will be next week in Italia. Former British pro champion, Tim Harris – a man who has graced these pages before – is Adam’s mentor in the hard world of Flemish bike racing and it was Tim who gave us the contact details for the young star who originally hails from the steel town of Sheffield.
PEZ: Congratulations on the contract, Adam – how’s the weather in Flanders?
Adam: Overcast, grey – a typical Belgian day; I wasn’t out today; I have a bit of a sore throat so I’m resting.
PEZ: In 2008 you had seven wins; how many in 2009?
Adam: Just two, but they were good ones – an under 23 World Cup and a one at Dunkirk where the big teams were riding. Apart from the wins I’ve had seven or eight seconds, too.
PEZ: You were with Konica in South Africa at the end of 2008?
Adam: That was at the end of the season, last year. This year I signed with Davo, which is a Lotto feeder team. I rode as a stagiaire but they said to me; ‘you might as well just sign with us now; make it sooner rather than later!’
PEZ: Was there one ride that clinched it?
Adam: I’ve been pretty consistent, getting in the top ten in the majority of my races – the manager at Davo said I was a bit young, but I use my head in races and I’m as well to start learning, now.
PEZ: Have you met the team yet?
Adam: No, but I did a race in France at the weekend and Jurgen Vandenbroecke – who was top ten in the Tour – gave me a run home in his new Audi A5 – that was pretty cool! I have a race with Cadel and Charly Wegelius in Italy, at the weekend – Cadel will be in his rainbow jersey!
PEZ: Was it Christmas when you got all the new kit and bikes?
Adam: Yeah, for sure, I wasn’t expecting it!
PEZ: Are you spending the winter in Belgium?
Adam: No, I’m coming home on the 14th or 15th of October; I haven’t been home to England since January – it’ll be good to see my friends and family. Technically though, home is here in Belgium; Ramsel where my girlfriend and I have a place.
PEZ: Do you have a coach?
Adam: No, I coach myself, but I usually ask Tim Harris for his opinion on what I’m going to do – he advises me.
No one ride clinched it, but this win sure didn’t hurt.
PEZ: And an agent?
Adam: I’ve just signed with Paul de Geyter, yes. (Panasonic domestique extra ordinary, Guy Nullens is one of De Geyter’s management team.)
PEZ: Have you got your 2010 programme, yet?
Adam: Not yet, they said I’d get after the Worlds; it’ll be ‘small classics,’ like Kuurne and Het Volk – I had to laugh at that ‘small classics,’ Het Volk is just crazy!
PEZ: You were a talented track rider.
Adam: I rode the track up until November 2007, when Peter Kennaugh and I won the under 23 Gent six. I wanted to go to the road so I could learn more and earn more!
PEZ: You left the British Cycling Academy to ‘do your own thing.’
Adam: Yeah, I liked the bunch racing and the madisons but I didn’t like the pursuit training – which you had to do. The academy is based in Quarrata in Tuscany and I’m not a great climber – I decided that I’d rather be in Belgium.
PEZ: Do you think riders get ‘trapped’ in the British cycling system?
Adam: I know what you mean, they get a bit of money in their pocket and are in a comfort zone; but if they lose their place then it’s perhaps too late to go abroad and start again.
PEZ: Have you got a supporters club yet?
Adam: One of my team mates, Kris Boeckmans – we lead each other out in races – had a 52 seater bus of supporters at the European championships, and half of them were supporting me too. I think I’ll wait until I get a little more famous before I get a supporters club of my own!
PEZ: How’s the Flemish?
Adam: I get by, what you find is that most of the time when you speak to someone, they’ll start to speak English to you. I understand a bit, though.
PEZ: I believe you’re an ‘old school miles man?’
Adam: Yeah, I don’t like all that fancy stuff – it wouldn’t work for me. I just like riding my bike; I listen to my body – but there will still be times when I don’t feel like going out, but I do. Silence did a test with me – unfortunately, I’m not very good at that sort of thing – so, they want me to put on SRM’s and follow a set programme, which they provide. I’ll have to go along with it and see how it goes.
PEZ: What do you like most about Flanders?
Adam: I like the racing, smashing up cobbled climbs then dropping down the other side on the cobbles with 20 other guys. Then there’s the ‘death ridge’ at the side of the cobbles which is a little gutter only wide enough for one bike’s tyres – I just love the aggressive racing.
PEZ: Do you come up against Guy Smet and Mario Willems, much.
Adam: Yeah, Big Guy! I’ve only raced about five or six kermesses this year, so I haven’t come up against Willems – but they all want to be ‘King of the Kermesses’ don’t they?
PEZ: And how about those frites – do you crack and have a portion?
Adam: Yeah, every now and again! A balanced diet has a little of everything – ‘all things in moderation’ is the rule!
With thanks to Adam for his time; we’ll be taking a keen interest in his progress in 2010.