Allan Peiper’s Managerial Debut

Have BMC discovered the magic touch? Cadel Evans and Philippe Gilbert are back to winning ways and apart from Jim Ochowitz’s media gaffs the team has enjoyed a great to the season.

One factor might be Allan Peiper. The Aussie is credited with helping Ryder Hesjedal in the 2012 Giro and was recruited by BMC last year. But skip back almost 30 years to see him as a rider on the Peugeot team and the video clip above shows him as a fledgling road captain with ideas on team management.

I said, look you’re all a pack of lazy idiots
You’ve got to have that killer… it’s got to be winning, not money. The money comes after the winning

There’s not much more to add to the video itself. Some of what Peiper says might be obvious, these are not the words of Sun Tzu or Baruch Spinoza. But it’s still a perceptive and frank take on the situation of the Peugeot team and the sport as a whole. Even during the middle of a big race he’s got ideas and despite being an outsider – an Aussie on a French team – he’s willing to share and implement them.

It’s almost 20 years ago but Peiper clearly had strong views on team management and its experiences like this are formative.

Some stats to suggest how well BMC are doing. The Peiper effect? Well he’s been in management for several years with Lotto, High Road, Garmin/Slipstream on his roster. As suggested on here before, it should be one of the easiest turnaround stories in the sport given a roster packed with star talent. But maybe some of his Aussie straight-talking is working.

Video credit: the clips are excerpts from the 1985 documentary “The High Life” featuring Robert Millar. It’s the story of Millar and Peiper is only a sideshow, a talking head. It’s rich material and the full DVD is available to buy.

26 thoughts on “Allan Peiper’s Managerial Debut”

  1. Peiper has had his problems in the past, but I would say he is an all round good guy and excellent motivator. As a rider he always gave more than 100%, and I think he would expect the same from riders under his charge.

    Hope the improved results from BMC continue. It will be interesting to see if he has any say in who the new signings might be.

    BMC would be advised to push Ochowitz aside, he carries too much baggage.

  2. Small correction – that film is from almost 30 years ago, not 20. I seem to recall that twenty years ago he was selling frites and mayonnaise from a roadside van in Belgium…


  3. The film was made during 1985 and it really came into being end of ’84 / start ’85. Some of it was filmed during the Tour (when Robert and AP were at the start point of making the move away from Peugeot to Panasonic). Some of it was filmed on the Isle of Man (not very successfully) and some at the time of the World Champs. Music is by Steve Winwood with Back In The Highlife taken from his album of the same name which was released around the time the film was aired (a month earlier if my memory is correct – ‘cos the film was first screened on ITV at prime time the week prior to the 86 TdeF). For the trainspotters, James Taylor sings back ups on that tune. For the uber-trainspotters, there is a SW instrumental piece which has never surfaced anywhere else… about midway through the film, there is a sequence where Robert is out training and descending at speed off of a mountain (Pyrenees I think). Background music to that is by Steve.

    • You didn’t mention, but I’ve never forgotten, the clip of him training on the mountain descent was on an open road with everyday traffic. He was overtaking as if on a Ducati – the camera man couldn’t keep up.

      Robert Miller and Steve Winwood in the same post! It doesn’t get much better. Thank you.

    • ok, one of your uber-trainspotters here 🙂 The descent is the Col De Ramaz, just below the Col de la Joux Verte, in the pre-alps of Haute-Savoie, it’s been used in the Dauphiné and was used in the Tour once, ascending from Mieussy (where Armstrong crashed on a jour sans in a later tour) so the opposite direction to the Millar film. The day of the tour climbed the Ramaz finished in Morzine I think, the day being won by tricky dicky and he took yellow iirc. My brother lives in thevalley so I know the climb well – tough up and lairy down!

  4. Some need that “kick ass and take names” style of leadership while others hate it and rebel. It would seem BMC has given the corporate style plenty of time and it hasn’t been as successful as they’d like so perhaps it’s time to go old-school? I too am surprised that with all the stuff coming out about Och that he’s not stepped down. USACycling needs a good house-cleaning in general, starting at the top. I keep expecting an announcement that some of these corrupt guys “will be spending more time with their families” as they say, but so far…not much. UCI seems to have a decent chap in charge now, why not USACycling?

    • There’s no way to remove Thom Wiesel, Mike Plant, Steve Johnson and the rest of the sports administrators behind the Armstrong fraud.USAC members gave up their right to direct the federation in any way years ago when Thom Wiesel took over.

      USOC did not seem to mind he ran doping programs up to and including USPS. Even if they did, Thom is out of the IOC’s reach. Thom manages USAC remotely with USACDF controlling a voting bloc on the USAC BOD.

  5. Glad to see turnaround for BMC, I like their (normally) understated style, with that said, your man Ochowitz is a bit ‘off the reservation ‘

  6. Certainly what you see, is what you get with Mr. Peiper. I seem to remember a most disgruntled Cadel Evans post-stage intimations at last year’s TDF that his (supposed) support hadn’t been that supportive. One can imagine exactly how Mr. Peiper currently handles such situations. No, I think BMC’s new winning mentality is pretty much due to the, how to put it, cohesion that Peiper brings to the table… along with warm shakings of the throat, as and when necessary, I’m sure. Thanks for that clip INRNG. I notice Evans won today’s Trentino stage after (yet) another sterling team set-up performance.

  7. Fascinating. I can’t help get the feeling that there might be hell to pay, these days, if a current rider made these comments on film about his current team. Pity.

    • It’s almost unthinkable to imagine a rider doing an interview like this, criticising the manager in public, slamming other riders. It makes this documentary of course. I recommend tracking down the whole film, worth a view over winter.

      • I think if the interview was done under Panasonic mr Peiper would have been more circumspect .. I think Peter Post was more formidable than the cheese eating surrender monkeys he was talking about !

        • Of course no commentary regarding the French can get by without some xenophobe invoking the “cheese eating surrender monkeys” comment. As if you couldn’t find any team of any nation or culture without internal management and motivational issues. FYI Monsieur Anonymous, the battle for France lasted over a month costing the French more than two million casualties while the British EF hightailed it for Dunkirk running for their lives in front of the Nazi Blitzkrieg. But you know, the Italians and Spanish get a pass as they were already part of the fascist front.

  8. A number of years ago Allan Peiper brought out a book called “A Peipers Tale”? if I remember correctly, some of which detailed his own fairly unique guide to nutrition. I missed ever buying a copy and always regretted it as it sounded a good read.

  9. Thanks for the clip of Allan Peiper speaking his mind. Hadn’t seen that before. He was spot on about the DS Roland Berland not having cojones. I think it is later in The Highlife that we see a devastated Robert Millar after the 1985 (‘Stolen’) Vuelta bemoaning (justifiably) his loss of the decisive penultimate stage. He blames Delgado and the other pesky Spaniards for ganging up on him, but most poignantly he singles out Berland for not having done his job. Millar felt that once his DS saw what was going on, he should have contacted the leaders of other teams and called in some favours or offered payment for co-operation. Berland just wrung his hands and left Millar dangling…

    • Spot on – but for the combination of dodgy happenings out on the road (Delgado and Recio gaining suspicious amounts of time over even Kelly’s chasing group, train barriers etc), and Berlands lack of action (or lack of respect amongst the other DS’s ?), Millar would have given the UK its first Grand Tour win 27 years before Wiggo.

  10. Thanks inrng for this post – I think BMC finally have a leader who they can rally around. The more victories, the more the belief will be there.

  11. That video really sums up Allan Peiper, he was a tough nut. He had a tough childhood and worked for everything he got and throw in some Australian no nonsense attitude made him what he was and still is.

    • You’re right…he is a tough nut indeed. For a number of years we lived close to each other in Belgium. Long after we both stopped racing he would always treat our training rides as an opportunity to try and destroy me. He got thrown into the family business from his former Belgian wife…he didn’t choose it.

  12. Allan’s book is still available and is a great read. Ive just finished it and it’s great to see this underrated and incredible fellow Aussie now bringing some overdue winning and harmonic mojo to Team BMC. Another great insight and article inrng.

  13. There’s a big interview with Allan in the next Cycle Sport, where he talks about BMC reaching crisis point last year, about why that happend, and about how the turnaround has been made. And yes, he does seem to be the factor behind it.

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