British talent Adam Blythe won his first race as a professional on Thursday afternoon in the opening stage of the Circuit-Franco Belge.
In the streets of Mouscron, Sheffield-born Blythe outsprinted Gerald Ciolek (Team Milram) and Kristof Goddaert (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
“I’m properly chuffed,” said Blythe. “I wasn’t expecting to win, I thought there was a breakaway still away.”
“I came into the sprint and I had to hit out really late, like 300 to go. I just carried over my speed, got to second and got hooked into the barriers and had to free wheel.
“From there, it was a drag race to the line between me and Ciolek, and I got him on the lunge. I didn’t know that I’d won!”
It comes as the culmination of a run of several good summer results from the first-year pro, and it will be of particular relief to Blythe after several months in pursuit of this elusive victory. “It’s always been on my mind, since the start of the year,” he said.
It is also a conclusion Blythe’s three-year journey to the top, since splitting from the Academy squad in February 2008 to take his destiny into his own hands in Belgium.
“What happened in British Cycling, a lot of people doubted me. I’ve come back, got this victory and done it my way, with support from the CTT [Cycling Time Trials] and my coach. It’s brilliant,” Blythe said.
With three days to go, the Omega Pharma-Lotto man finds himself in the leader’s jersey, surrounded by experienced teammates like Jurgen Vandenbroeck.
“I didn’t really come into the race thinking about the overall, I just wanted that win. I’m just going to take each day as it comes, and see what happens.”
The champagne will be flowing tonight for another reason too: Blythe celebrates his 21st birthday tomorrow.
Blythe sprints to third in Belgium
Blythe chases elusive win after Fourmies fourth
Adam Blythe: Rider profile