Allan Peiper believes that UAE Team Emirates can get the best out of both Alexander Kristoff and Fernando Gaviria in 2019. The Colombian was a surprise signing from Quick-Step Floors during the off-season after the Belgian team struggled for budget. Peiper also arrived as a sports director after several years as performance manager at BMC Racing.
The signing of Gaviria is a major coup for UAE but it also raised questions over Kristoff's standing given that he was signed just a year ago and was the team's leading sprinter during the 2018 campaign. Both the Norwegian and his younger teammate are fast finishers but Peiper believes that they have different characteristics and that Kirstoff is fully onboard with UAE strengthening their hand in the sprint market.
"I spoke to Kristoff this week and he only sees it as an advantage of having both of them in the finale," Peiper told Cyclingnews from his home in Belgium.
"If we're realistic and we looked at the strengths of Quick-Step this year, it was because they had numbers in the finale. The more riders you have at the key points in races, then the more cards you can play. If it comes to a situation where we have them both, then it will come down to the director to make the call based on how the riders are feeling. I don't see any conflict of interest there. It's about getting the maximum out of the riders that we have. It might be that in some races Alexander has more experience, but in some races Fernando is going to be the fastest. I don't see any hiccups there."
UAE Team Emirates won just 12 races in 2018, and although they picked up two stages at the Tour de France, courtesy of Dan Martin and Kristoff on the Champs Elysees, they underperformed in several key races. Fabio Aru was MIA at both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, while the team failed to win a Classic. Their last victory came in July.
Peiper will bring stability and experience to the team, while he can be credited with helping turn BMC Racing around after they struggled to get the best out of their big hitters during their first few seasons. The Australian helped bring Rohan Dennis on, and oversaw Greg Van Avermaet enjoy his best season ever during the 2017 campaign.
"There's a really great opportunity for myself to go into an organization that's maybe underperforming at the moment. I can bring my experience and skillset. I'm excited because I'll be able to do all the Classics in Belgium, all the way until Paris-Roubaix and then I'll be at the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. That will be exciting after a lot of years in the office as Performance manager or sporting manager. I'm looking forward to going on the road with the riders," he said.
"It's essentially a new team, and it's not really had a chance to evolve and balance out. You can look at the results and with twelve wins this year it should be a lot better. There's a lot of opportunity for improvement and with Fernando Gaviria and Sergio Henao moving over from their respective teams, there's also a lot of talent coming up too."
The only rider on the UAE roster Peiper has worked with in previous years is Dan Martin, when the pair linked up for a year at Slipstream in 2012. The rest of the UAE roster is all new after Kristoff left BMC Racing a year before Peiper arrived.
"It's a whole new set of riders, director and staff, and that's exciting."
Peiper's new outfit has certainly strengthened in the transfer market. Along with Gaviria they have signed Sergio Henao from Team Sky, Jasper Philipsen, and Rui and Ivo Oliveira. In order to improve on a sub-par season the team must utilize youth, establish their new signings but also invigorate those within the existing roster who have underperformed.
"The first thing to do is understand what the objectives and goals are for next year within the team and then work from that point," Peiper said.
"We want to score right across the board and we have a few fast guys with Gaviria, Kristoff, Juan Sebastian Molano and Philipsen and then a good GC group across the top with Aru, Rui Costa, Henao and Martin. There's a lot of talent with the stable, it just needs to be balanced out."