Britain's Adam Blythe is gaining experience in his first Grand Tour. After five days of racing in the Giro d'Italia, he has already met his goal: a top five finish, on Monday
Today, he faced two small climbs prior to the finish in Novi Ligure, ones that nearly split him from the main field. Omega Pharma-Lotto team-mate Charly Wegelius helped him keep calm and stay in for the fight, though.
"Charly was perfect, he kept me calm. I was panicking and he rode up beside me and said, 'Just relax and don't panic.' He stayed in front of me, took me over the hills and then took me to the front with about 10K to go. But, coming into the last 4K I was just swamped," said Blythe.
"Racing this Giro is as if I am at school. I am learning about my body and about how much pressure I can put on it."
Classes started when Blythe raced for Omega Pharma's feeder team, Davo, last year. The 20-year-old from Sheffield earned a contract with the ProTour-level team, but he still needed to lose weight and train more.
"I went to lot of training camps in Mallorca and passed a lot of time in the saddle. My first big aim was Ghent-Wevelgem. I wanted to do well there to show I was good enough to be selected for the other classics. They picked me, and it was unbelievable to ride Flanders and Roubaix. And I helped someone [Philippe Gilbert - ed.] finish third in the race, which was even better."
Adam Blythe with fellow Brit Steve Cummings on stage three
"He is not here as a gift, but he worked hard in training," sports director, Roberto Damiani explained.
Damiani helped Cadel Evans finish twice second at the Tour de France and offered his advice to Blythe immediately last autumn.
"I remember when he raced with us in Italy, I told him that if he is this heavy he won't finish the races. Not that he will be dropped before the sprints, but he will not finish stage races. He worked hard over the winter and he was in good condition at the start of the year."
Damiani and the Omega Pharma team agreed with Blythe that the goal is to make it through the first two weeks of the Giro d'Italia and then take the race day by day. It may not seem like a lot, racing two-thirds of a Grand Tour, but the longest race Blythe participated in before the Giro d'Italia was seven days.
"We have put faith in him, without pressure," continued Damiani. "Even today, he said he fought as hard as he could to arrive with 3K to go and then he could not do anymore. Our philosophy is work and results, not fighting for results before doing the work."
Blythe will keep a low profile over the next three days, the first two are medium mountain days and the third is the race's first mountain-top finish, to Monte Terminillo.
"After that, he will have a chance to play his cards, but without pressure."
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
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