Allan Peiper's cycling dream team - Cyclingnews Podcast

This week, instead of a roundtable or a rider interview for our podcast, we’re excited to present an exclusive with BMC Racing team director Allan Peiper.

The Australian had a long and distinguished career as a rider and was a teammate to several world stars before moving into management with teams such as Highroad, Garmin and now BMC.

In this podcast, we ask Allan to select his dream team – a nine-rider squad of riders he has either ridden with as a teammate or managed.

Recorded at the BMC Racing’s team camp at the end of 2015, Allan picks a team to tackle the overall in the Grand Tours as well as the sprints and Classics. We hope you enjoy.

The rules:

  • Each team must feature nine riders, one of which can be the rider selecting the team. In which case they would pick eight riders to join them.
  • The riders picked must have all ridden with the person picking the team. That means you can’t just pick the eight or nine best riders of a particular generation.

The team leader: Ryder Hesjedal

As a DS I've only won one Grand Tour and that was with Ryder at the Giro in 2012. It was such an amazing team but a half-cocked team. We put all our force behind Ryder and the rest of the team with Christian Vande Velde and Peter Stetina pulled it all together with that Stelvio stage. It was such an awesome experience and a real pleasure. It's not so much about the biggest GC rider I've ever been with, Ryder the one who won the Giro, and that relationship was something that won't be reproduced again. That's why I'd have him as my GC leader.

Ryder Hesjedal kisses his 2012 Giro d'Italia trophy

As a youngster, I travelled to many races in the back seat of our club presidents car with Phil so we've known each other a long time and I followed in his footsteps to the ACBB club in Paris. I rode with him at Peugeot and Panasonic and he won the Dauphine Libere and the Tour de Swiss along with a fifth at the Tour de France one year. He was a brilliant all-rounder winning many classics and could be the second GC rider on my team. He was the guy, who out of all the guys I rode with, I looked up to the most. He was a real pro and lived for his job in possibly a different way than Pro's of that day from Europe. Along with his friend of that era Greg LeMond that pair were the first innovators in modern cycling.

Phil Anderson in the Tour de France's best young rider jersey

He was a really intelligent guy and his writing is great. As a rider he was meticulous, from everything from food to sleep. He was a rider before his time in many ways as well. I was in the same team with him when he won the mountain jersey at the Tour de France, and finished fourth. Sean Yates and I were with him, and although we couldn't climb, we'd help him when we could. We were like his bodyguards on the flatter stages and when he needed help moving around the peloton.

He won some nice races but I think that in a different generation, let's say now, he could have been more successful. Basically, back then you had to fit into another culture, whether it was French, Dutch, Spanish or Italian and if you were slightly out of the mould then some teams didn't get the best out of you. Robert rode for a lot of different teams, won some fantastic races with great panache and skill but like I said, if he was riding today he could have been even better.

Robert Millar in the king of the mountains jersey at the Tour de France

I've worked with a few sprinters but I suppose the joy that Mark gave us was something I'm not going to come across again. Winning five or six stages in the Tour and the way he was winning… was amazing. There was a stage to Bordeaux one year I think in 2009. He hit out and he took 10 lengths on everyone and in a later phase when he and Mark Renshaw went 1-2 on the Champs Elysees that was a class above the rest.

Cav and I have always had a love-hate relationship from the start. He didn't speak to me for a few months because I once gave him shit for being overweight at the Tour Down Under in 2011 and we've had a few run-ins because we're fiery competitive characters. After I called him overweight at the Tour Down Under, I think the next time he spoke to me was at De Panne about three months later. We were a bit up and down at times but I always had, and do have, a huge amount of respect for his talent and dedication.

Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw go one-two on the Champs Elysees at the 2009 Tour de France

He's not at the top of his career yet but I've known him since before turning pro and I was the catalyst for him joining Garmin and then him joining here at BMC. I've been able to be involved in his development as a Pro and seen him win the Tour de France prologue and become a real motor in the TTT. We're pretty much the same character as well, and I see a lot of myself in him. It will be interesting to see how far he can go. He's won Colorado and TDU, ridden to top ten in the Dauphine in his first Pro year but GC is another step down the road. Last week Cadel Evans said Rohan would need to make a choice between spending six to eight years developing as a Grand Tour rider or stay the rider he is and possibly being a multiple world time trial champion and winning shorter stage races. I think Rohan wants to try and be a Grand Tour GC rider.

Rohan Dennis powering to victory and the yellow jersey in the 2015 Tour de France prologue

I've seen a few lead-out guys over the years but what we perfected at Highroad between Renshaw and Cav was something unique. Renshaw can't really sprint for himself when it comes to that truly top level but without that stress he can ride intuitively for a guy like Cav and put out 1100 watts in a leadout for 30 seconds. That made a big difference and puts other riders on the back foot. Before the final kick even started Cav would be in such a good position and that's why you always see him thanking his teammates. It's genuine relief and gratitude.

I brought Renshaw over from Credit Agricole for Cav when that team folded at the end of 2008. I'd seen how he'd ridden with Thor Hushovd and I'd seen his qualities. He could read a race, and make position and he and Cav meshed really well. Renshaw is also the guy who can tell Cav to shut the fuck up when it's needed – and sometimes it is - and Cav would listen to Renshaw because of their mutual respect and friendship. Renshaw was like a dimmer on a light switch for us in that sense.

Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish celebrate another victory together, this time with Etixx-Quick Step in 2015

The road captain/domestique: George Hincapie

Before he went to Highroad he had a big career with 'the Texan'. When he came to Highroad there was no pretentiousness and he fitted in as our Classics guy. He'd been in so many Tour winning teams but he didn't flaunt that and at the same time he could lead out Renshaw and Cavendish while being a great classics rider. He was a captain but could also be a pair of DS's eyes on the road. All the years I've been around cycling, he was the biggest ambassador in how he carried himself. I wasn't at BMC when he came here but also the way he helped support Cadel to the Tour win in 2011, that was very stabilising factor from what I've heard.

George Hincapie
 was a key rider in BMC's winning 2011 Tour de France team

Don't laugh but I've got a cat that I call Philippe Gilbert. In 2011 I was still with Highroad but Phil – the rider, not the cat - was having his big year with Lotto. Anyway we found this stray, tabby cat with this real abundance of energy, who was aloof and had his own mind. Every day he'd bring us two dead animals and Phil is like that. He doesn't bring dead animals to the breakfast table but he's got a real killer instinct in races. It's at a level that I've never really seen before. As champion he's got that mix of being slightly self-centred but also calculating. He's like Michael Jordan, just backing up win after win.

Philippe Gilbert celebrating victory in 2015

He sort of fits the Cavendish and Renshaw model but he's also an ambassador and an intelligent guy. He went from being a lead-out guy to being a captain and advisor and for the Classics he could be really important too. I was behind him when he won Gent-Wevelgem, which was not expected. That was really super and for him to get something back after all the sacrifices he's made for others in the sport was really special.

Bernie Eisel celebrating his 2009 Gent-Wevelgem victory

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