Adam Blythe, 2013 BMC, 2014 Continental team NFTO, won the London-Surrey Classic this past Sunday in a remarkable upset, beating the World Tour riders otherwise dominating his winning breakaway. I watched the final 10 km on youtube, although that video seems to have since been pulled. Too bad -- it was an impressive final.
Adam was there with 5 pro tour riders including Sky's Ben Swift and BMC's former world champion, Philippe Gilbert. Although Blythe was on BMC last year, obviously his preparation for this race was handicapped by the lack of top caliber race opportunities available to his team, NTFO. Despite this, he took his share of the pulls, longer pulls than some of the others. Surprisingly there were no attacks in the final kilometers, the group instead working together until the end game began well within the final kilometer. Adam went from relatively long, not wanting to get jumped by Swift, and it worked. He held his gap to the finish, winning his home "classic".
The NFTO bikes and kits look really good. The jersey and shorts are well-fitting and make good use of color, mostly black and red, a distinctive combination. The bikes are Swift, a small company which also sponsors the Drapac team in Australia. Their frames aren't particular light and are certainly not aero, but they look good and delivered Adam to the win in the race.
In addition to Shimano Di2, which is hard to argue against from a functionality perspective, the team has wheels and bits from Enve Composites. Enve stuff looks really good, is well made, but is heavy for carbon. In this case, however, with the UCI 6.8 kg rule, this wasn't much of a handicap.
The bike looks really good. Here's a photo from the team blog:
And here's NFTO rider's Russell Downing's bike (BikeRadar article). Note the Enve stem. Russell runs only 49 mm saddle-to-bar drop, not much for a pro (I have 80 mm on my Ritchey Breakaway):
One notable thing about Adam's bike is the stem: a truly impressive demonstration of SlamThatStem.com :
Whoa! Is that a stem on your bike or are you just happy to see me?
One thing of note is the stem isn't Enve: it looks like an FSA to me. This is because the NFTO philosophy is fit first, sponsorship second. Pro Tour teams could learn something. Enve doesn't make a stem like that: it may be FSA, but I'm not sure.
His BMC last year wasn't quite so extreme. Here's a photo of his 2012 BMC from Cycling Weekly:
And here he is racing in Qatar last year. Unlike Andy Schleck, for example, Adam can reach his drops. He seems reasonably comfortable, although the mutant bend in his back allows his rather exceptional saddle-to-bar drop.
You'd think the Swift Carbon must be some sort of endurance bike geometry, but it doesn't seem so. The geometry is described here. The head tube lengths seem quite reasonable. The trails are slightly long in the middle frame sizes, but otherwise I see nothing exceptional. In contrast, BMC seems longer. Did Adam's position change?
As nice looking as the NFTO set-up is, there's nothing to replace doing the big races with a Pro Tour team, and hopefully Adam makes it back to the top level next year.