Just finished the Pez interview of BMC’s Thor Hushovd. He had a generally forgettable 2013 season but with Allan Peiper now in charge of the Red & Black, the improved results are already evident for several riders — will the Norwegian also benefit from the Peiper Effect?
Cadel Evans got off to a great start in the Tour Down Under while 23 year old phenom Taylor Phinney got a breakthrough overall victory in the Tour of Dubai — built on his time trial defeat of World TT Champion Tony Martin.
To those early successes you can also include a confident Philippe Gilbert who has had a perfect winter of training and who is motivated by all the Peiper positives happening at BMC. “For everybody it’s like a new team. It’s a completely different mentality. We can feel it, we can see it in the results, even if it’s only the first two or three races, we can see we are there with another approach to cycling and racing,” said Gilbert at the Tour of Qatar.
There are plenty of reasons to believe Gilbert will be in contention for a win at Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne or Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
So back to Norway and Hushovd. We’ll be interested to see how Hushovd performs under the new Peiper regime. You’d think he would appreciate the greater focus on clear goals and expectations and a firmer hand in determining team roles.
We were always surprised that Hushovd left Garmin with such a bad taste in his mouth. In his first year with BMC he came down with a nasty virus like Cadel Evans and the whole season was a wash. He got heathy in 2013 but still didn’t deliver much in terms of big wins although to did pick up a few smaller victories.
It sure feels like he has something left in his legs. Can Peiper help bring him all the way back and will we see him on the cobbles of this year’s Tour de France? Tejay van Garderen already has his three climbers for France in Peter Velits, Darwin Atapuma and Peter Stetina. Will van Garderen have Hushovd to steer him through the bone-breaking stones?
Not to get overly dramatic but this seems like the Still Fast or Fade season for Hushovd. Hopefully the changes at BMC will boost his performances — if not, hey, he’s got plenty of laurels to rest on.