Adam Blythe helped Omega Pharma-Lotto team-mate Philippe Gilbert claim a podium spot at the Tour of Flanders last Sunday, and now has his eyes set on Roubaix.
The 20-year-old from Sheffield worked for his team leader until the key climb of Oude Kwaremont. "Phil was happy. He said I did a perfect job," Blythe told Cycling Weekly this morning at the start of Scheldeprijs in Antwerp.
"At the start of the race I just had to make sure that Phil was always in my shadow, keep him out of trouble and to keep him out of the wind. That was really important before the cobble sections, I worked hard to put him position on those."
"I stayed with him up until about 190 kilometres into the race, just before the Oude Kwaremont. I stopped there, job done, and it was good."
Gilbert missed the key attack by eventual winner Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) on the Molenberg climb 40 kilometres later, but he fought back with Scot David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) and eventually got third. Blythe watched it all on TV from the team bus, saving his energy for Paris-Roubaix this Sunday.
Team Manager Marc Sergeant was also happy with Blythe's work, but he shied away from comparing him to compatriot Mark Cavendish. "Normally there is not two phenomenons like that in one generation," said Sergeant.
"We have someone who can do the same with a 50cc motor that some guys with a 500cc motor can do. He knows how to save his energy in the sprint, and knows how to find his way through the peloton. That's quite good."
Blythe's next goal is The Hell of the North, a 259-kilometre romp over France's roughest roads north east of Paris. As with his outing in Belgium, it will be a debut performance.
"It would have been nice to finish Flanders, but I have Roubaix to think about and I need to do a good job there," Blythe continued. "I just have to do the same I did for Phil, but for Leif Hoste."
The former junior European track champion is nervous but excited heading into the unknown. "Maybe I will make it a long way or just 100K, I don't know."
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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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