Peiper's PicksAllan approves of a dazzling Dauphiné and plumps for vintage Pinot in his best of 2014 picks for the Rouleur Awards.
A life spent in cycling has given Allan Peiper the knowhow on cycling success. The Australian has gone from being one of the most respected domestiques of the ’80s to one of the most highly regarded modern directeur sportifs.
He was one of the managers behind Highroad’s remarkable 85-victory season in 2009, worked at Garmin and is now performance director at BMC, masterminding their bid to be professional cycling’s top dogs.
Smart and streetwise, Peiper’s in an unparalleled position to offer his expert take on the best of 2014 for our inaugural Rouleur Awards.
Rider of the Year
Alejandro Valverde, yet his standout performance for me is not a victory. It was in the Tour de France when he was getting dropped [on stage 17 to Pla d’Adet], losing 40 seconds and not losing his courage and clawing back to the group. I thought that was courageous.
It’s not always about winning or being the best rider, leaving everybody behind. That’s what I saw with Valverde at the Tour, that’s what stuck in my mind, even though he’s had a lot of success this year and in the past. This guy fights the whole year.
Gerrans pips Valverde at La Doyenne. pic: Offside/L'Equipe
I’d put Simon Gerrans in second place. He was Australian champion, won the Tour Down Under and Liège-Bastogne-Liège – let’s not talk about the circumstances [the Dan Martin crash] because the history books won’t reflect that.
The fact that he backed it up at the end of the season with wins in Montreal and Quebec – and if the World Championships had gone differently, the result might have been more than his silver medal. That’s as close to Valverde this year as you’re gonna get, maybe just because Valverde was so consistent in the Grand Tours which takes a hell of a lot of energy. Gerrans basically carried his team, so second place for me.
Third place for Contador. The way he came back from his injury at the Tour, and won the Vuelta… he’s probably the best stage racer of our generation, this generation.
Best Young Rider (U25)
I know Quintana won the Giro in an exceptional manner and going for him would be obvious, but I would give it to Thibaut Pinot. I thought his podium in the Tour was great and again it’s on a different level than winning.
Yes, Fabio Aru did some great rides in the Giro too. But I think the Tour de France is the pinnacle, and the way Pinot rode was exceptional, under pressure to perform and all the rest of it.
Vintage Pinot had Peiper and French fans in thrall this summer. pic: Offside/L'Equipe
I think Pinot is a breath of fresh air for cycling, especially French cycling. Can he be a Grand Tour winner? I think he’s a bit limited in his climbing talents: he’s a fighter, that’s for sure, but he doesn’t have Quintana’s pure explosivity or time-trial ability. He’s not a bad time triallist, but he’s never going to be one of the best. I think that’ll always be his Achilles heel.
Best Stage Race
The Criterium du Dauphiné was best of the year for me. Riders raced all out for the top 10, leadership changed hands on the last day and it was a truly climactic race.
If we could package cycling in the same way as this year’s Dauphiné, we could make a fine spectacle.
I was there in the BMC team car behind Tejay [van Garderen] in the second group, it was great. I saw Contador attacking out of it, trying to ride across, but Froome’s guys rode his guys into the ground, having three guys in the break. Contador’s guys chased, blew up, the gap was too big, Contador tried to jump across by himself, didn’t make it.
Riders weren’t saving themselves for the Tour, not at all. They were racing full-on that day. I think Sky took a gamble and thought they could force Tinkoff-Saxo to chase.
When they blew up Tinkoff-Saxo, Froome saw it slipping out of his hands, so he had to bring some guys back from the break – and that’s where they over-calculated, they couldn’t get control of the situation anymore.
Talansky gave it his all to take a thrilling overall victory on the final day. pic: Offside/L'Equipe
It was was freezing cold, Talansky won and it was brilliant. There’s not too many up-and-coming riders who’ve got that talent.
I see Talansky podiuming in a Grand Tour not far from now, because he can time-trial and climb really well, he’s got the depth to last for three weeks without having a bad day, and he’s got the tenacity - he is a pitbull.
Best Team of the Year
Omega Pharma-Quick Step.
I’ve been with High Road when we won 85 races in a year, mostly with sprinters, and I’ve been with BMC this year where we won 30 races, the World Championship team time trial, the Amstel Gold Race and some other nice races which are sometimes more difficult to win than a bunch sprint.
But I think OPQS’s quality and diversity over the whole season makes them stand out: in time-trials, in stage races, with the sprinters, in the Classics. The only thing they haven’t really cracked yet is the Grand Tours: I see them on the way to doing that, but that’s a big job for any team.
To have Grand Tour aspirations, to do the sprints, the flat and hilly Classics, and have a time trialler in your team, is nearly impossible in a maximum 30-man squad. I think they’re about as complete as you’re gonna get.
BMC performance director Allan Peiper was speaking to Rouleur's Andy McGrath.
About the Rouleur Awards
The Rouleur Awards recognise the best riders and performances from the 2014 professional road racing season – with a twist.
The winners will be chosen by a panel of experienced judges, comprising some of the most experienced minds in cycling, including Jens Voigt, Sean Kelly and Jonathan Vaughters.
Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing a selection of each judge's choices, alongside their reasoning, on Rouleur.cc before revealing the winners for each category on December 19.
Rider of the Year
Stage Race of the Year
One-Day Race of the Year
Team of the Year
Best Young Rider (Under 25)
Domestique of the Year
Most Attacking Rider
Directeur Sportif of the Year