Interview: Adam Blythe (NFTO Pro Cycling)


A winner with ProTour teams over the last four years, Adam Blythe talks to VeloUK about signing for British team, NFTO

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Adam Blythe from Sheffield has been racing since he was a youngster in single figures and at 24 years of age now, has signed for British UCI Continental team NFTO. The reason? To get back that confidence he’s lost after not getting the opportunities to use his sprint to the best effect at the highest level in cycle sport.


There were a lot of raised eye brows when Adam Blythe signed for NFTO and thoughts as to why a rider would leave the ProTour ranks to ride in Britain. Adam, like his NFTO teammate Russell Downing, has ridden the Tour of Italy and been at the sharp end in the sprints there. He’s won races like Binche–Tournai–Binche and a stage of Paris–Corrèze and was 4th overall in last years Tour of Qatar.

Adam Blythe had fourteen top tens including two victories and seven podiums in 2012. Last season though was less of a success. Adam though has shown that he can compete with the best but one gets the feeling he wasn’t getting the backing at BMC to add to those results and so as he says, signing for NFTO is a bit of change for him.

Contracts at ProTour level were thin on the ground in 2013 and despite other offers, he’s come to race in Britain for the first time and admits he’s looking forward to it.


 Adam racing in Lotto colours in 2011 at Otley.

“It’s exciting to come into a team that is new with me and Russell (Downing)” Adam explained after some good performances at the Revolution meeting on Saturday night. With stage 2 of the Tour de France in 2014 finishing in Sheffield, he really would have loved to have got in the BMC Tour team which would have been a once in the life time opportunity. But that wasn’t going to happen.

He explained how the BMC team was more and more being built around Tejay van Garderen (USA) who is coming though as a GC contender in the Grand Tours. “The main focus for the team is around him for the Tour so for me being a young sprinter and not able to support him in the mountains, I didn’t see much hope of getting in the Tour de France team” Adam says.

“In BMC, I never really found I had opportunities. There were always big riders coming through to get condition in such and such a race, and because they were selected for the race, they were already in good condition and so at the last minute, we’d have to work for him.”

“So it was like Adam, you have to be going good for this race and you’d go there and Thor or some one would arrive and you’d have to do a job for them. That’s okay as that is the job and the way it works but when you’re a sprinter and you’re thinking of winning races and you can’t because some one says to you that in the race you have to work for someone else, it’s hard to keep taking.

“Two or three times is okay but when its four or fives time, it gets a bit much and it was like ‘when can I have a go?’ It was difficult in that respect but I learnt a lot in that team about being a rider and about what it’s like at both ends of the ProTour.”


2005 Junior Nationals – Adam is second to fellow Yorkshire rider Ben Swift and Olympic champion to be Steven Burke.

Big budget teams like BMC are packed with Grand Tour stars and so offer few opportunities for sprinters especially in the big Tours. Their goal is the GC and so for sprinters in the team, without support, winning doesn’t come easy. We saw with Cavendish how when Sky took away his train or with Quickstep when they weren’t well equipped to lead him out, how it’s hard for sprinters to succeed.

“It is getting harder and harder to win sprints at that level” Adam explained. “It is super difficult and it’s not like it was five or six years ago. It is a case of a team getting six men to 3k to go and then it’s a team time trial with one guy at the end doing the sprint.”

“Nowadays, if you don’t have that around you, it’s not impossible but it is more difficult and if you don’t have that higher status as Cavendish, Greipel or Kittel have, to get on those wheels is super difficult. You can see that on TV, if you don’t have a lead out train, you are in a lot of trouble.”

Doing it his way
It’s all a far cry from the time he left the shelter of the GB Academy and went to Europe to make it on his own. I put it to him that must have been hard but he disagrees. “I think if you want do it enough, and you are good enough, it’s not that hard.”

“When I moved to Belgium, it was the perfect thing for me. I was young (he’s still only 24!) and I remember I had a broken bike for three months and I had to win races to live basically. You don’t learn that anywhere else than Belgium.”

“Doing that was a massive learning curve, suddenly being independent, on my own and having no money. But, once you start winning races in Belgium, people will say so and so is looking at you and I was soon contracted to Lotto.”


Part of the GB team in 2007 at the Europeans in Cottbus (Germany). Behind Adam is Peter Kennaugh (interview here), AN Post pro Mark McNally and Tour of Britain stage winner Luke Rowe.

Asked if he is still very competitive and driven after the disappointments he’s had at BMC, he says, “even more so at the minute. Two years in Lotto were super and I’ve had an alright year in BMC. The first year in Lotto was the peak of my ProTour career though and I haven’t really done anything since then which is crap and disappointing really.”

“I look back and I know I got up to that level but haven’t progressed. I’m 24 now and no longer the youngest rider on a team. I’m just a 24 year old rider in those teams now. You need to get results and work hard and it’s opened my eyes so it’s a blessing in disguise”.

So the big question; why come to Britain to race? He starts by saying it’s not just about getting his hands in the air and then after a think, takes that back and says it is. “I did the Spadgers (track open) and felt awesome on the track. It’s small things like that which make the confidence go sky high so coming to England and getting into the British scene which I have never done, will hopefully see me winning races”.


“I’d like to do things like back when I was a junior when you win a lot more, and can do a lot more. So hopefully, coming to Britain will be good for me and I’ll get more confident and I’ll get back to where I was. I certainly want to win races at the top level and that is World Tour. That is where I want to go back to.”

“I just need to take this year and all the support I am getting from John (Wood) and the NFTO guys which is amazing and see where it takes me. It is great that he (John Wood) went out and looked for me and signed me and has given me this opportunity.”

“I didn’t make it easy for him as I was set on ProTour and I didn’t think of anything else and then I spoke to John and we found a balance of what I wanted from the team and what he wanted from me. We both respect each other, see each other’s point of view and it’s not a one sided battle like it has been in the past.”

Finally, asked what he’s looking forward to here, Adam says doing the bigger races like the Tour of Britain is a goal. “I have never done the Tour of Britain before and I am looking forward to that.”

“I don’t know what to expect though here and how hard it will be. It will be hard I know but I want to go into the first race and make an impact and keep making an impact …”

A bit like Revolution last Saturday where despite being on a new bike which wasn’t quite set up right, Adam went out and won the first sprint in the Points race. He then later in the night finished fourth in a Scratch race where there were only ten finishers in a brutal race. It’s early days though. The NFTO team doesn’t expect to be racing until April and the first Prem, the Tour of Reservoir. Before then, there’s training camps and finishing touches to be made.

As a former European Champion on the track and GB rider, the talent is there, it just needs a team to help him bring it out and one suspects, leading the NFTO team with the likes of Russell and Dean Downing, Adam will again get back that winning feeling.

Our thanks to Adam for the chat and good luck for 2014


Adam with one of the sports big stars, Phillipe Gilbert 

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