Aussie Focus

Peiper there to support Pogačar as he secures Tour de France win

It was Australian sports director Allan Peiper who helped his young charge Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) to his maiden Tour de France victory in 2021, and he was again on hand to watch in person as the 22-year-old claimed his second title.

After several battles with cancer over recent years, it was decided that Peiper wouldn't be in the team car for Pogačar during this year's Tour de France. Instead, Andrej Hauptman, Pogačar's long-term coach and mentor took over the duties as sports director, with Peiper preparing the stage briefings from his home in Belgium, rather than exposing himself directly to the stresses of the race.

He was present on Stage 20 time trial with the race leader and presumptive winner, Pogačar, overjoyed to see the Australian before he rode his time trial, where he finished eighth.  

“Today I saw Allan (for the first time) since January," said Pogačar. "It was already a lot of emotions at the start and I was so happy to see him. He was in a good mood and it was great to ride with his support and the support of the team.”

The history between the pair goes back to when the young Slovenian entered the professional ranks, first at training camp and the racing in Australia at the Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, already impressing in those first events against elite fields.

"I first met Allan three years ago in training camp," said Pogačar. "I had a lot of respect for him and I did my first races in Australia with him. It was a great experience that I’ll never forget. He’s a super nice sports director and a super nice person.

"He taught me a lot, more about life than about cycling. He had quite a big influence on me."

Part of that influence has been to get the young rider mentally ready for riding against the best in the world in the biggest race in the world. In 2021, the young Slovenian was ruthless in the first week as he built his race-winning lead, conservative when the stages meant he needed to defend then flicking the switch back to ruthless on the final mountain top finishes in the Pyrenees. 

It's not to imagine that the words of Peiper were not ringing in his head at those moments, from conversations that he had with Peiper during that first Tour victory, revealed by Peiper .

"I’ll tell you one thing that you’ve got to remember: these guys are not your friends," wrote Peiper of what he told Pogačar. "They are going to cut your throat whenever they have the opportunity. And you need to remember, the day when they’re on their knees, that you need to do the same thing.’ I think he had that in the back of his mind because he went quiet. After that, whenever he attacked, he was ruthless."

The emotions of Pogačar on his two different Tour victories don't bear comparison for the Slovenian, but certainly, with each win he's building the start of what promises to be a brilliant career.

"I cannot compare them, they are totally different," said Pogačar. “I was just super happy I’m finished. There was a super amount of support out on the course, I was enjoying every kilometre even though I was suffering."

With just the traditional final stage around Paris left for the race leader to negotiate and a five minute buffer even if something does go wrong, it should be another case for celebration for both Peiper and Pogačar.

The Tour de France concludes with the traditional finish in Paris on the Champs-Élysées for Stage 21. Watch the action from the later start time of 2300 AEST on SBS and SBS OnDemand, with the SKODA Tour Tracker and the racing action starting at 0005 AEST.

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4 min read
Published 18 July 2021 at 6:31am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS