By Oliver Neilson

MAJORCA´S cycling season shifts into top gear this afternoon as the 20th Vuelta a Mallorca hits the Paseo Maritimo in Palma for a 10 lap dash. The Vuelta is the most important cycling event of the year in the Balearics, it consists of five separate trophy races leaving virtually no corner of Majorca untouched. This year's event is bigger than ever with 21 teams, including 10 UCI outfits: the sport's elite. This year's entrants include former world champions, national champions, stars of recent Tours de France, and among them all, quietly establishing himself as one for the future is Yorkshireman Adam Blythe. I caught up with Adam in his team's hotel during preparations for this year's event. He has been cycling seriously for 15 years, not bad for a 21 year old. His potential was spotted early, and he subsequently joined the Great Britain World Cycling Olympic Academy programme, under the inspirational leadership of Dave Brailsford.

The hothouse environment has been a production line of the very best in British track cycling. Household names like Olympic medal winners Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Rebecca Romero are among a long and distinguished roll call of success that has taken on, and beaten, the best the world has to offer. “The buzz about the team is incredible” says Adam as he recalls his time spent with the programme establishing a solid record as a regular winner in junior championships on the track.

By mutual consent Adam split from the programme in early 2008, moving to Belgium to compete in the country's ultra competitive amateur circuit. ‘My heart was always in road racing, and I'd always loved Belgium and was ambitious to race in the Classics in the region' he explained. The move paid off, and following success on the road, he was signed up by the Konica Minolta team. Further success brought him to the attention of top level Belgian outfit Omega Pharma Lotto, who he joined in 2009. His first senior success came as the overall leader and double stage winner at last season's Circuit Franco-Belge on the eve of his 21st birthday. The fast and flat stages were perfect for Adam to establish himself as a sprinter to be watched.

Meanwhile the success established by British Cycling in the velodrome has been building in the prestigious world of road racing, an area where British athletes have been notable by their absence at the top level. The ultra ambitious Dave Brailsford now also heads up road racers Team Sky, of whom big things are expected.

W iggins and Cavendish are, in differing degrees, establishing British cycling as a force to be reckoned with on the road as well as on the track. Adam's contemporaries, Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift and Ian Stannard as well as Adam himself are set to make a formidable second wave of British road cycling. All have taken different routes to the top and are set not to replace, but join the existing stars. If self belief alone won prizes, this crop would already be champions.

You don't need to have taken much interest in cycling to have heard of the phenomenon that is Mark Cavendish, the Manx missile. Cavendish is already established Britains, and arguably the World's, best sprinter of all time, and is without doubt the cream of the current crop and still only 25 years old. Ask Adam if, as a sprinter himself, he feels in the shadow of Cavendish?, “Not at all, Cav's a great guy” he says,” I've known him since I was eight years old when we started out together” It is clear that Adam sees himself in the same company, and at four years Cavendish junior he still has plenty of time to join him at the top. Asked about being a rising star at the best time in history to be a British cyclist his confidence continues unabated. He predicts that in a very short number of years the Grand Tours, (Tour de France, Giro D'Italia and Vuelta a España) will be dominated by British riders, an idea unthinkable a decade ago.

The future aside for the moment, the hierarchy system in place in cycling dictates that even the most talented must work their way through the ranks, from stagiare (amateur) to domestique (servant), before earning your stripes as a senior rider. Adam will be working to assist and protect his team leader Phillipe Gilbert in this year's event, but watch out for him on Sunday's super quick stage, a stage that virtually guarantees a bunch sprint for the line, and Adam is likely to be freed of his team duties to race for the win. The Vuelta a Mallorca is among the season's opening races and represents Adam's first major challenge of 2011. This year he hopes to race the Classics, (prestigious one day races), contest the Vuelta a España and Giro D'Italia, and all being well, the legendary Tour de France next season. September will be another opportunity to take on the very best in the Road World Championships in Copenhagen. The course looks set to favour the sprinters, but the very best will be there, and they will be at their very best.

If you want to catch up with the race, and frankly it is going to be hard to avoid, the riders will be covering 756 km this week, they will be based in Palma on Sunday, Cala Millor on Monday, Inca Tuesday, Deià Wednesday and Palmanova for the last day on Thursday.

Full details with maps and timings are on the official website www.vueltamallorca.com. Whether you turn out to watch Adam Blythe at Sunday's race in Palma, or just stop your car sometime this coming week and watch the blur of neon colours fizz past, you may one day like to remember where you first heard his name.