BMC to push Flakemore outside his comfort zone during debut season

Australian rookie professional Campbell Flakemore could find that his time trialling prowess will book him a berth in his BMC team for the Giro d’Italia in 2015. However, BMC sporting manager Allan Peiper has told Cyclingnews that the 22 year-old Tasmanian shouldn't bank on his race programme for the season being based around events that include time trials, and that he will be challenged to perform outside his comfort zone. Peiper also said while the world under 23 time trial champion is an important asset for the American WorldTour team, he will have to learn “how to race to win.”

Asked what expectation are for Flakemore, Peiper told Cyclingnews: “Learning to be in the environment, how to be a pro – going to the races, serving the team, riding on the front when you need to, while focusing on your quality of being a time triallist.”

Peiper said that when Flakemore returns to Europe from Australia where he is currently competing at the Australian road championships, the team will place a lot of emphasis on helping him adapt to the changes that he will experience. Flakemore finished sixth in Thursday’s men’s elite time trial won by Richie Porte (Team Sky) and will race Sunday’s men’s elite road race in a support role for 2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans alongside Rohan Dennis.

“We are going to have him in the wind tunnel in the next couple of months, working on his position even further, working on his development – his body development with his core strength and his diet are also important things,” Peiper said. “And then slowly seeing how he fits in to the team, and what he can do.”

While BMC will be conscious about helping Flakemore adapt during his professional career, the team won’t waste time tapping into his strength against the clock.

“With his strength in time trials – and I’m sure he can be the same strength in team time trials, he is an asset we already need firing on all pistons this year,” Peiper said.

“There is a team time trial in the Tour of Romandie He will be there with Rohan [who will lead BMC in the Swiss stage race]. “There is a team time trial at the Giro d'Italia, where he may get a start because it is the first stage and we see how he goes after a week or 10 days. However we have to be careful with him. He is only a neo-pro.”

The BMC team are also world team time trial champions and that could mean Flakemore figures in their selection for their title defence this year in Richmond, in the USA.

“Being team time trial world champions, we have a lot of responsibility to carry on performing all year. For Campbell that will be an important factor,” Peiper said.

Testing in unchartered waters

Peiper is excited to see how Flakemore responds to new challenges during his debut season with BMC at a WorldTour level.

“I am not too sure how well he climbs because climbing in the Under 23 ranks is different to climbing with the pros,” Peiper said. “But from what I heard, he did a lot of work for Caleb Ewan [on the Australian Jayco-AIS national team] in the last couple of years, and Caleb spoke very highly of him.

“So he knows how to ride in the bunch, he knows how to make position and how to be a good helper already. He had a good development with Cycling Australia. It remains to be seen where his capacity lies, but one thing I have heard from a couple of different sources is that Campbell needs to start learning how to race to win, and not just relying on his time trialling ability for success.”

“That’s a thing we have tried to build into BMC, especially in the last 12 months – getting everybody thinking about being successful because we need more than just a time triallist. We need a guy who can ride on the front for a GC rider, who can bring the classics guys to the bottom of the hill. He will get a big spattering of races through the first six months of the year to find out where his qualities lie.”

Asked if that means Flakemore might be placed in scenarios he is unaccustomed to just to see how he responds mentally and physically, such as riding tempo for a team leader even if a time trial he might normally fare well in was the next day, Peiper said: “Exactly. The first year for a neo-pro is such a growing experience, recovering between races because the depth of races is so much bigger.”

“That is stuff we are going to have to nurse him through a little bit and support him in the days he is not as good as he expected to be. But I have a feeling he is a kid who knows what he wants to do. He wants to be successful but he is not expecting everything overnight. He was happy with his sixth place [in the Australian elite time trial title] which I thought was pretty intelligent for a kid of his age. He could have been disappointed not being better, being world under 23 champion; but realising the field that was out there he was happy with what he did.”

Rupert Guinness is a sports writer on The Sydney Morning Herald

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Rupert Guinness first wrote on cycling at the 1984 Victorian road titles in Australia from the finish line on a blustery and cold hilltop with a few dozen supporters. But since 1987, he has covered 26 Tours de France, as well as numerous editions of the Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana, classics, world track and road titles and other races around the world, plus four Olympic Games (1992, 2000, 2008, 2012). He lived in Belgium and France from 1987 to 1995 writing for Winning Magazine and VeloNews, but now lives in Sydney as a sports writer for The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media) and contributor to Cyclingnews and select publications.

An author of 13 books, most of them on cycling, he can be seen in a Hawaiian shirt enjoying a drop of French rosé between competing in Ironman triathlons.