One of the more interesting transfers over the winter was that of Garmin’s US rider Tom Peterson to Dutch team Argos-Shimano.
The 26 year-old from North Bend, Washington has been with Jonathan Vaughters’ outfit since the TiAA-CREF days back in 2006.
But for season 2013 has decided that he’s played the ‘loyal team man’ for long enough.
Peterson was US Junior Road Race Champion back in 2004, joining Vaughters in 2006. His biggest results to date are a stage win in the Tour of California in 2009 and a fourth place in the Presidential Tour of Turkey in 2011; but along the way he’s also ridden two Vueltas and a Giro.
And if you look closely at his stage results in some of the big races he’s ridden, they tell a story.
Despite his domestique role, last season he took 13th on the Genting Highlands stage of the Tour of Langkawi and 17th on the brutal Bola del Mundo stage of the Vuelta – two of the hardest parcours imaginable.
VeloVeritas caught up with Peterson as he prepared for his Argos debut in the GP Marseillaise and Etoile des Besseges.
Seven years with JV, Tom – moving must be a shock to the system?
“It’s a shock to move from any team – you get to know the riders, the staff . . .
“It’s a big change but what’s welcome is that the team’s language is English and the guys are easy to get along with.
“I had a choice in where I went; it’s not quite the same as when we merged with Cervélo – but there are still a lot of big riders in Garmin and it’s easy to get pigeon holed as a domestique. I have no problem doing that job, but I’d like to take a few chances of my own.
“Argos wants me to develop, that’s a fundamental of my joining the team.”
You have some very promising results on tough mountain stages – Genting and Bola, for example.
“I’ve always known that I can be up there, if I’m given the opportunity.
“That’s what it’s about at Argos, focussing on being the best rider I can be. My agent, Martijn Berkhout of SEC Cycling had been talking to Argos for a while before I signed with them on a two year deal at the Vuelta.”
And Gerona in Catalunya is home?
“Yeah, it’s nice, the weather is warm, the folks are friendly and it’s pretty much recession proof.”
Last season was a long one for you; did you take a break right after the Vuelta?
“Yes, I took a month off after the Vuelta, I played a little basketball but we also had to find a new apartment during that time.
“Once we’d done that we spent time back in the US over the autumn and winter.”
How was the work load at the Argos training camps?
“We did a lot of different stuff; some days we’d train twice with just about every ride having intervals in there – five minutes ‘on’ or low cadence, big gear work, for example.
“We also did core and weight work in the gym. And we did ‘no sugar’ training to encourage the body to burn fats.
“I’m pretty happy with how my fitness is progressing.”
How much difference is there between a Garmin camp and an Argos one?
“There’s not as many staff around and the mix of riders is far more cosmopolitan – even though the predominant language is English.
“But the truth is that there’s not really that much difference.”
How does the programme look?
“I have the GP Marseillaise (DNF) and Etoile des Besseges (36th) then in March we’re in Italy followed by the Tours of Catalunya and the Basque Country, leading in to the Giro.”
And no more domestique role?
“I’ll have much more freedom in the transition and mountain stages; we’re a young team and there will be shared leadership – if you have the legs then go, but if you don’t then say so!
“We have multiple riders capable of good results but I won’t be there to go for bottles, I’ll be looking to stick with the big guys and to cover good breaks.”
In John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel you have two of the fastest men in the peloton . . .
“Depending on the situation I may be part of their train – although I certainly won’t be one of the last guys in it – and I have no problem with that.”
You’ve ridden the Giro, the Vuelta – is the Tour on the agenda?
“I’m definitely hoping to do it this year – I think I may be doing the Giro, too.
“For Grand Tours selection goes down to the wire – but Tour participation was one of the first things we talked about with Argos when we were negotiating with them.”
What’s your take on ‘Mondialisation?’
“I’m not against it, you would say; ‘the more global races the better’ but generally, the best races are in Europe. If you look at the big US races like Colorado then I have the feeling that the European riders don’t seem to be taking it quite as seriously as they would a major European race.
“If you race in China, the flights are huge, there’s the jet lag aspect and the infra-structure is missing because they’re still learning the system. If the World Tour continues to grow I guess there’ll be more effort goes into it – but at the moment there are still issues like not being able to take all of the team staff with you and your phone not working, so you can’t communicate with home.”
And the inevitable ‘Lance question?’
“It’s an interesting situation, everyone’s eyes are on it but no one is sure how it will all end up.
“The trouble is that to anyone who’s not a cyclist it’s all they know of the sport.
“Currently it has no effect upon me, but I do get folks asking me questions about Lance being on the Oprah show.”
The ‘to do’ list for 2013?
“I’d like to win stages and get to the top of GC rankings – that’s the goal.”