Belgian brings wealth of experience to cobbled Classics
Peter Van Petegem will put his role as a race director aside tomorrow and go behind of the wheel as an assistant team director for the first time at Garmin-Cervelo. The 41-year-old Belgian will drive a team car with Johnny Weltz as the American ProTeam looks to kick start their spring campaign with a win in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne - a race Van Petegem won 10 years ago.
"Officially I'll start at San Remo but on Sunday I'll be in the car with Johnny Weltz as an assistant director," Van Petegem told Cyclingnews.
Van Petegem was given the role as a "Classics Advisor" earlier this month but could not start earlier than Kuurne as he is the race director for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He will help steer the team until Paris-Roubaix.
"The have a really strong team and I liked the proposition Jonathan Vaughters gave me," he said.
"I won a few races and Classics so I know how to ride these races."
In fact Van Petegem is one of only a handful of riders to complete a Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix double (2003) and despite retiring from competitive sport in 2005, is familiar with a majority of the Classics riders at Garmin-Cervelo.
"I rode with [Andreas] Klier, [David] Millar, [Thor] Hushovd so I know them well from my riding days. But now it's up to me to say something if they need to do something in a race so it's a different role and responsibility.
"The most important thing is that the team is riding well and I will help where I can. I can bring my experience. I know all the roads so I don't need a book or a map to learn about these race. Everybody knows the climbs but it's the roads between the climbs that are just as important," he added.
Garmin-Cervelo heads into Kuurne having made a strong start to the 2011 season, winning nine races since January. They will be lead by American Tyler Farrar.
One of their biggest challenges could be juggling the ambitions of their riders, with Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler, Farrar, Johan Van Summeren and Martijn Maaskant all capable of results this spring.
"The more leaders you have the better. To win Classics like San Remo, Paris-Roubaix and Flanders you need a strong team and backers to ride for a team leader.
"In my time I was the only team leader and I had a team built around me but now we have ProTeams with more leaders and Garmin has a lot of guys that know they can win but it will be a matter of each rider having different races to aim for."
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