Blythe Wins Prudential RideLondon-Surrrey Classic
Adam Blythe (Team NFTO) took the victory in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic 2014 in central London earlier today beating his old friend and training partner Ben Swift (Team Sky Pro Cycling) in a dramatic sprint finish on The Mall.
The two Sheffield, England-born riders were part of a five-strong group that powered up Whitehall and under Admiralty Arch after 200 kilometres of hard racing over the wet and muddy roads of the Surrey Hills.
Team Cannondale’s Slovenian rider Kristijan Koren led them up The Mall with the finish line and Buckingham Palace visible in the distance. But Blythe launched his attack fifty metres to go, surprising Swift, Team Sky’s pre-race favourite, to take a hard-earned victory for the unfancied NFTO Procycling team.
Blythe threw his arms in the air as he crossed the line, a roar of triumph breaking out from his mud-spattered face.
“It’s hard to say how much this means to me,” said Blythe afterwards. “But you could see how emotional it was as my face said it all.
“OK, it’s not like I won the world championships or anything, but this is very big race for a British rider to win, especially in this setting in front of the Queen’s house. I hope she was watching.”
Swift was one the race favourites and appeared to be in a perfect position to show his famed finishing speed after five Sky teammates, including 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, had worked hard in the middle part of the race to get him into a breakaway group.
“It would have been nice to have won, but I am really happy with second,” Swift commented. “I’ve known Adam since I was seven years old and we’ve got a lot of history, so I knew he was the one to watch.
“I knew I needed to keep an eye on him and I could see he was looking for me on the run-in. I tried to react to his move but he’s a really fast sprinter and once he got the jump on me he was away.”
Koren’s challenge faded as the two Britons raced away and Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe took third for Omega Pharma-Quick-Step ahead of Philippe Gilbert, Belgium’s former world champion from the BMC Racing Team.
Seventy kilometres earlier it was Gilbert who had made the decisive move of the race on the approach to Box Hill.
There had been a number of early attacks from the 147-man field as the riders set off under the welcome warming sun, which had moved in to replace the morning deluge.
The first significant break came in Richmond Park after 13km when six riders got away and established a gap of just over a minute, an advantage they held through the early stretches out into Surrey’s narrow country roads, many of them still smeared with rain wash.
Wiggins and teammate Ian Stannard did much of the work as Sky took control of the peloton, their intention to close the gap and get Swift into contention for any later break. The plan worked perfectly, and when Gilbert made his move, Swift was one of 10 men who leapt to his wheel.
As Sky stepped off the gas, the Cannondale team was