Adam Blythe's bid for a place in BMC's classics team continued with a strong sprint at the end of stage five in Qatar today. The stage was won by Mark Cavendish who leads the race, Blythe is in fourth overall.
"I would love to ride the classics to be honest, I'd love to get in that team and try to do a job," Blythe told Cycling Weekly after the stage. "[The Tour of Flanders] appeals most to me. That and I'd love to do [Paris-] Roubaix with Taylor [Phinney] because I think he will be up there this year. I think he knows what he wants to do there."
If all goes well, 23-year-old Blythe will race Tirreno-Adriatico (March 6 - 12), ahead of Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Blythe turned professional in 2010 with team OmegaPharma-Lotto and immediately earned his spot on their classics team. He was charged with guiding Philippe Gilbert through the early sections of Flanders and Roubaix. A job he returned to do in 2011.
Last year Blythe's early season was hampered by a thigh injury and he didn't feature in the classics. He returned to form in the summer, won a stage of Paris-Corrèze and ended his year with a sprint win in Binche-Tournai-Binche. In Paris-Tours, he attacked and came close to winning the French classic.
"I was in the final and I showed I was good enough," Blythe said of Paris-Tours. "I did a stupid attack but I was still there and I won the bunch sprint."
Now his attention returns to the northern classics. After helping team mate Brent Bookwalter over the first two stages in Qatar and winning in the team time trial, Blythe has been able to try his hand at the bunch sprints. Although not an out-and-out sprinter, Blythe can hold his own, as any good classics rider can.
Now he said, it's a case of "hard work, head down [and] try and get in the team. Phil doesn't need me to help him; there are a lot of guys in this team who are much bigger than me who can help him stay out of trouble. They can ride for longer," explained Blythe.
Blythe and Gilbert both live in Monaco and train regularly together. The world champion may well want the young Brit by his side as he goes for his first win in the Tour of Flanders. In the smaller Belgian races that fill the calendar in mid March and April, Blythe may get his own chances. "I'm doing Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, it's just a semi-classic, but I can show I'm going good, be up at front and try and get a good result and something might come of it. We'll just have to see."
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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