By Mark Zalewski in Santa Cruz, California
Garmin-Slipstream's Jonathan Vaughters was not behind the wheel of the team car in Monday's stage of the Tour of California when his prodigy Tom Peterson took a major step forward with his first professional race win. The American director sportif watched from Switzerland where he attended to his presidential duties at an International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) meeting.
"I've coached Tom since the beginning of his career so I was pretty damn happy that he won today," Vaughters said to Cyclingnews yesterday. "I've coached him one-on-one and am in constant contact with him. This is like when your little prodigy grows up and wins."
It could have been a double win for Peterson. A flat tire right before the start of the prologue on Saturday caused him to miss his start time. Those two minutes would have given him a shot at taking the yellow jersey as he sprinted in with Levi Leipheimer (Astana), the new race leader.
"He is not yet a time trial rider so he was never a classification rider for California. The riders from the beginning have always been David Zabriskie, with Tom Danielson as the right-hand man. They have been our strongest bets since [training] camp. They weren't able to go with Levi, but neither was anyone else."
Vaughters offered his own analysis on the race situation after two stages. He believes it will be a time trial "showdown" between Leipheimer, Michael Rogers and Zabriskie.
As for Peterson, Vaughters said to expect big things from him on the classification front down the road. "I think Tom has a big future ahead of him. We need to keep working on his time trialling, putting him in the wind tunnel until he can't stand it! You look at someone like Lance Armstrong and he wasn't a good time trialer and Tom's age either."