If you had to throw cash down on which WorldTour squad would win a “most improved” award, BMC might be the bet.
From the moment that new boss-man Allan Peiper stepped in, he made it clear that the tags “underachieving,” “disappointment” and “sucks really bad” would no longer be tolerated.
After the haphazard, laissez-faire management style of previous DS John Lelangue, Peiper was like a breath of fresh air. He sorted out egos and race schedules and made the objectives crystal clear to everybody in the team bus.
In a long, two part interview with SBS, Peiper explained his approach to talking BMC from 30 wins last season to what he expects will be 40 victories this year. What stuck out for us were two specific quotes that summed up his methodology.
First, he had a simple way of letting his riders know they needed to get their shit together. In Peiper’s words, “this is important, making them aware that if you don’t step up you step out.” You can’t get more direct than that ultimatum — win or walk.
Second, Peiper untangled the messy ball of egos at BMC and made sure everybody understood their roles and which races they would contest. He cites that accomplishment as perhaps the biggest change from last season the the biggest reason those 40 wins are possible. “They don’t encroach on each other’s terrain, and that could be what really differentiates this year from last,” said Peiper. “That could be the winning point.” You can’t step up, if teammates are stepping on your objectives, right?
Peiper made the hard calls and said Cadel rides Giro, Tejay rides Tour, Gilbert rides Ardennes classics and discussion now over. Step up or step out, boys. He put young phenom Taylor Phinney on notice that he better post some results early (he did — a TT win in Dubai) and if he wanted to make the Tour roster, he better keep winning.
Everybody now has well-defined marching orders. In comes Peter Stetina from Garmin and he’s already off to a flying start. He’s part of van Garderen’s Tour core and knows how his entire season maps out. BMC snatched up Samuel Sanchez in the last hour and already Sammy knows the job requirements: help Cadel in Giro.
In the past, riders have described the “family” atmosphere at BMC. Well, it may still have that family vibe but dad just cracked the whip and expects the report card grades to go up or else. BMC’s performance under Peiper will be one of the intriguing stories to follow this season.
We sort of doubt that old man Evans will make the Giro podium but expect van Garderen to be a serious Tour protagonist all the way to Paris. It’s also a no-brainer that Gilbert will win something major this year — he’s back to his former bad-ass self. And you can be sure Phinney will absolutely crush a big time trial this year.
It’s going to be exciting to see who steps up at BMC and then at the end at the end of the season, who steps out.