The GP Zottegem on Tuesday saw Britain’s Adam Blythe make his pro debut riding as a stagiaire for Silence-lotto, one of Belgium’s two top pro teams. Blyth was given his new kit and programme of pro races until the end of the 2009 season just before the start of the 193 kilometre UCI 1.1 race.
The race, which took in 17 climbs spread over several circuits in the Flemish Ardennes, was won by former Belgian national champion Niko Eeckhout of the An Post-M.Donnelly team. Blythe finished 53rd after working hard for his team leader on the day, Jurgen Roelandts, who was fourth.
Before heading off for a celebratory meal with girlfriend Lizzie Armitstead that evening Blythe spoke to Cycling Weekly about the race. “I felt ok. It was faster; you could tell that, but there will be a lot harder races to come as there was really only one Pro Tour team, us, in the race. The rest were good Belgian and Dutch teams,” he said.
During the next month Blythe will take part in the William Tell GP stage race in Switzerland, and the GP Fourmies in France. “I’ve also been told to race every pro kermesse I can in Belgium,” he said before accompanying Armitstead and a group of friends on a Cycling Weekly training ride.
If he pleases his new team’s bosses, Blythe will be the first rider to turn pro for a top team from outside the British Cycling academy system for a number of years. He used to be part of that system but had his own views on the destiny of his cycling career, and that has always been in Belgium.
Blythe: liking the new kit