Aussie director sportif Allan Peiper will be joining Garmin for the 2012 season. It think this is a wise signing, the team was struggling for managers earlier this year after Matt White got booted out. Indeed the squad too Peter Van Petergem away from his new career as an insurance salesman to get behind the wheel for a few weeks. Whether it was caused or just correlated to Van Petergem’s help, Johan Van Summeren took Paris-Roubaix.
Peiper is from the old school, the tough school. He quit an abusive home for Belgium and the weirdness of the Planckaert household. His book, a Peiper’s Tale recounts a lot of this. When his racing career came to an end he opened a burger bar, operating out of a van and driving to kermesses to supply spectators with hot food. It seemed an abrupt change.
Come 2006 and Cadel Evans joined the Davitamon team and fellow Aussie Allan Peiper was brought into the team and the manager hasn’t looked back. Peiper’s a tough guy today, a sense of humour but demanding.
It’s only an anecdote but watching the Beyond the Peloton video of the pre-race briefing for Milan-Sanremo (4m54s) I can’t help but get the feeling Jonathan Vaughters wasn’t exactly psyching the troops up for the battle. For sure, a bike race is a careful war of attrition but Peiper can bring an edge here too. That said, HTC-Highroad has been, to exaggerate, military operation where everyone knows their place whilst Garmin, again to exaggerate, has tended to allow more individual characters.
With the Tour de France still fresh in our minds, it’s important to remember several teams want to improve for the classics season. Leopard-Trek need some help for Fabian Cancellara and Quickstep also need people to accompany Tom Boonen. But having someone behind the steering wheel helps. We’ll see what other teams do, especially once the future of Philippe Gilbert and Mark Cavendish is certain.