Number 10: Adam Blythe
Last year’s position: N/A
Adam Blythe was always a slightly hexagonal shape that would not fit neatly in the British Cycling academy’s neat square holes.
They decided they were not made for each other and so Blythe set off to Belgium, to do it the old school way. He found a club, then got a stagiaire contract then turned pro, for the Omega Pharma-Lotto team.
And the fans, slightly puzzled at why the brand new Team Sky was not taking on one of the most talented young British riders, arched their eyebrows.
But if cycling teaches anyone anything, it’s that it’s too hard a sport to thrive at unless you are doing it your way.
The fears that the young Brit might end up getting burned out by a Belgian pro team with no vested interest in his long-term development were mildly justified in the first half of the year. Blythe started Ghent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix and worked for the team.
He started the Giro d’Italia, which turned out to be insanely hard, and lasted 11 days.
But all that work for other people, all the struggle, started to show dividends at the very end of the season.
Blythe used his sprint finish to brilliant effect, winning the opening stage of the Circuit Franco-Belge, then taking another stage two days later to set up the overall victory. The following week he won the Nationale Sluitingprijs in Belgium too.
Next season could be very interesting.
Cycling Weekly’s Top British Riders of 2010 advent calendar: We will reveal one rider per day behind the virtual doors of our sparkly advent calendar from Wednesday December 1 to Christmas Eve, Friday December 24. The top eight will then be revealed in Cycling Weekly magazine’s final issue of the year, which will be in the shops on December 30 2010.