Q&A Adam Blythe
The former British national champion and Worldtour pro on commentating, what really happened with Aqua Blue Sport, and the struggles of juggling family life and racing
Cyclist: You’re now commentating for GCN, Eurosport and NBC. How did you become a pundit?
Adam Blythe: I started back in 2016 when I was asked to be on Eurosport. I did a little bit of commentary but it was mostly analysis with Jonathan Edwards. Then I worked alongside
Rob Hatch, who for me is the best commentator on the planet. Working with him has helped me massively.
At GCN the combinations on the sofa are great and it’s like any workplace – if you’ve got guys you love working with it makes the job a lot easier. Plus having someone like Sir Bradley Wiggins sat next to you on the sofa teaches you a lot. Many people might think, ‘Oh, Brad’s obviously right,’ but it doesn’t matter if he is right, it’s just an opinion.
For me commentating is about educating people who are new to cycling and about explaining what is not obvious in a situation and the repercussions that it might have. I think it’s important to put your neck on the line a little bit and give your honest opinion on a situation, and I hope that’s what I do. I’m not afraid to be wrong.
Cyc: What’s it like riding on the back of a motorbike for NBC at the Tour de France? From your Instagram stories you seem to love it.
AB: Yeah I do love it, it’s a lot of fun.
It’s scary at times going down those descents but the challenging thing is the actual commentary. When the race is on I don’t see a lot but I can hear the commentary team talking about the race and have the NBC producer in my ear talking to me. I’m going off what the commentary is and then analysing that without the race being in view at all. Of course, if there are problems or people are dropped, if there’s something that might not be on TV, I can report on that.
On the hard, long days, especially when it’s raining, you have to remember that people would pay a lot of money to be sat on the back of a motorbike in the middle of the Tour de France peloton. It’s a fantastic job and the guys at NBC are all amazing and easy to work with.
Cyc: You were part of the Aqua Blue team that folded in August 2018, less than two years after it started. Can you take us through what happened?
AB: The year before had been great, everyone was excited and then it just
slowly got worse. [Team owner] Rick Delaney wasn’t a bad guy, he was just very business-driven. We kind of knew something was happening behind the scenes but then everything just stopped and that was it. Done, dusted, finished. I’m not going to say it was a shock but teams normally run until the end of the year.
I will get one thing straight: I was critical of the 1x 3T bike [as ridden by the team], which was brilliant for riding around if you’re not racing or on the flat, but on anything where you needed a constant change in gears the bike just killed your legs, and that was my point. I don’t think there’s a single team in the Worldtour peloton using a 1x anymore.
Cyc: After Aqua Blue you joined Lotto Soudal, a team you had been with earlier in your career, then retired at age 30. What made you decide to retire?
AB: It was brilliant to be back at Lotto and a bit of a relief to be back in an organised, stable team, but I had a lot going on in my life that year, which didn’t help me as a bike rider. My wife and I had just had twins and where we live we don’t have a lot of help nearby. My wife was finding it very, very tough and for me it was a case of trying to support her.
I remember being at the Tour de Romandie and on the first day realising that I’d not done enough training. All I’d been doing were loops around where I live as I was always checking in to make sure everything was alright at home. On my second night my wife called me and said she was struggling. I went to the director and said, ‘I’m really sorry but
I’m going home. I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.’ I think from that moment I knew that was the end of my career.
At the end of the day, family is what matters to me the most. You can jump on a bike whenever you want. It’s not the be all and end all.
Cyc: How do riders juggle family life and racing and what impact does this have?
AB: Even when you’re at home, you still need to train and you need to rest, so family life has to take a back seat. There are a few riders out there who didn’t see their family because of Covid for nearly 12 weeks. If you don’t see your family for 12 weeks, you’re not going to be happy.
If you’re a pro cyclist, juggling cycling and family life definitely becomes easier if you can take your family to training camps, but even now some teams don’t want families there. This completely baffles me. If you want the best out of a rider the number one thing is that they need to be happy. So you have to ask what makes a rider happy, whether that’s something as simple as riding a different set of bars, wearing a certain pair of glasses or seeing their family more.
It’s easier for the younger generation who don’t have those commitments at home and for the guys without kids. When you are a dad or a mum, when you go home it isn’t a rest!
Cyc: Do you ever miss racing when you are commentating?
AB: Not once. I’ve never thought, ‘Oh it would be so nice to be racing.’ I think that says a lot.
For an extended interview with Adam Blythe download the Cyclist Magazine Podcast at the usual podcasting places
‘I said, “I’m really sorry but I’m going home. I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.” I knew from that moment that was the end of my career’