Adam Blythe (NFTO) sent out a big reminder of his ability at RideLondon and the Yorkshireman is keen to prove himself again at the Tour of Britain.
The former BMC Racing man leads NFTO’s six-man line-up for their debut Tour of Britain, which starts in Liverpool on Sunday (September 7).
And though Blythe is under no illusions as to the task in hand – with Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) among the sprinters bidding for success – he hopes his victory on The Mall can spur both him and the team on.
“I think everyone has taken a boost from the RideLondon win,” he told RCUK. “We’ve realised we are competitive, not just riding around.
“We’re here to do something competitive and showcase the team and what we can do, so I think there will be days when we’re definitely able to get in the breakaway.
“Not being a Pro Team, hopefully they will let us go and hopefully then we can do something. But it’s difficult. It’s alright to say we’ll get in a break but it’s never that easy.
“There are so many things that can go right, but also that can go wrong as well.”
As for his own targets, the man who earlier this year was crowned national criterium champion, has his eyes on the two ‘kermesse-style’ stages in Liverpool and London, which bookend the Tour.
He added: “Obviously I want to do well and try and get up there in a stage, but there are a lot of sprinters riding and it’s going to be difficult trying to get involved with those guys.
“But if I have a bit of luck on my side then hopefully I’ll be able to get up there and try and do something in a sprint, but I know it’s going to be quite difficult.
“Stages one and eight have caught my eye – the ‘kermesse’ style ones. The rest will be quite difficult.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for a sprinter to be honest. There’s going to be a lot of people wanting to break it up as well.”
Blythe took the decision to step down to UCI Continental level in the winter, bringing an end to five years at cycling’s top tier.
Fourth at the Tour of Qatar last year, and a first Giro d’Italia finish – as part of the team which helped Cadel Evans to a podium place – had showed the 24-year-old’s talent.
But with opportunities limited, Blythe opted to join the well-resourced newcomers NFTO – a decision he has no regrets about after enjoying a resurgent year.
And having been on the other side, Blythe believes the Tour of Britain offers the perfect opportunity for the team to showcase how the gap to cycling’s top tier is tumbling.
“I think it’s just been a really successful season,” he said. “Now I’ve realised what I’ve got to do, and what I need to do better.
“I think it’s been a good decision on my part as well to step down a level.
“The Tour of Britain is a huge race. Other than RideLondon it’s the only chance we get – and over eight days – to show ourselves and show the higher teams we can be at a competitive level.
“We can show we can be at their level, we’re just without the same number of race days as them. I think we all race the same, it’s just a completely different race programme.
“Those Pro Team guys are used to stage races and harder stages, but we’re certainly training as hard as them.”
Such training has been low key in the past week as NFTO prepare for the Tour, however, with their six riders having touched base in Hereford as part of their final preparations.
Manager John Wood was given an unenviable task of picking the final six-man team for the race, with a strong roster making for some high-profile casualties – not least Russell Downing.
But Blythe believes the close-knit team heading for Liverpool – where they will be presented at Liverpool One tonight (Saturday) – can bring the best out of each other as they target breakaways and stage wins.
He said: “I think it was a difficult decision for John. Every rider on the team deserved a place.
“It’s a young team, and we’re all keen to get stuck into it but I think the group we have here are the best we could have had – we’ll hopefully have a laugh, which should bring morale and hopefully a good result or two.
“We’re all close as a team. We all have a good laugh. It’s just a case of being out on the bike, having a laugh and a bit of banter.
“When we’re all out, we’re helping each other out and really trying to get the best out of each other in the race, so it’s just a group of lads going out the bike but with a number on our backs basically.”
With a warning shot already fired at RideLondon, however, Blythe – who is concentrating solely on the race, without being drawn on his future – is certainly one domestic rider to look out for this week.
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