Tom Peterson Interview: American rider believes he’ll have bigger opportunities with Argos Shimano
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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Tom Peterson Interview: American rider believes he’ll have bigger opportunities with Argos Shimano

by José Been at 4:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
Former Garmin-Sharp rider speaks about move, is aiming to ride first Tour this year

Tom PetersonArgos-Shimano strengthened their squad with quite a few reinforcements this year, and one of those is the former Garmin-Sharp rider Tom Peterson. It’s been a big change after so long with his old team, but he’s feeling good about the move. “I started my career with Garmin six years ago, coming from the amateur ranks. From 2011 I started thinking of moving on. I want to get the full potential out of my career and I think Argos-Shimano is the best place to do that.”

Peterson comes from Seattle in Washington. In 2004 he won the national road race title in the junior category. “Seattle has quite a good reputation when it comes to cycling,” Peterson says at the team launch in the Spanish town of Altea. “The scene is pretty good there and they do a great job at cultivating talents. Tyler Farrar is from there and also Tejay van Garderen is from the state of Washington.”

In 2007 he signed for Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle and stayed with Jonathan Vaughters’ team for six years. “They did very well with their development team, just like Bontrager-Livestrong does. The differences between European and American riders is quite big. The Europeans have far more skills when they are younger. The Americans learn those skills on the fly when they come and race in Europe. That’s what Chipotle offered and it’s the best thing a young American rider can do.

The 26-year old American raced a good program with Garmin-Sharp. He finished three Grand Tours, yet feels like he is at a crossroads. “I was not left out of the program but I did feel I was overlooked at Garmin. They did think about me but didn’t really put much thought into me. “

Peterson defines himself as a rider who can do top 20 in a Grand Tour. In his first Vuelta a España in 2010 he finished 27th. His biggest result came in 2009 when he beat Levi Leipheimer in the second stage of the Tour of California. “At Garmin they knew what I was capable of but didn’t really do anything with it, at least not in the last few years. I had been pigeon-holed. I felt I definitely needed to move on to take something out of my career.’

The decision to leave the American team was not taken lightly. “I first thought about leaving in 2011. My manager Martijn Berkhout of SEGcycling was already talking with Argos-Shimano during the Giro of that year but I ended up signing a one-year deal with Garmin. The talks with the team continued during 2012 and I signed a two-year deal during the Vuelta.”

After six years with the same team in his home country of the United States, moving to a foreign team was a big step. However he’s pleased with things thus far. ”It’s a new team with new people but it was a step I was ready for. I feel they have the right philosophy. As a rider I think I have a lot of potential and I need a team that understands that and embraces it. Argos-Shimano does that very well. The fact that they are in WorldTour now is a bonus because when I signed in September I didn’t expect them to be in the WorldTour.

The expectations of his first season with the Dutch outfit are still a bit unknown. “I think I can do a top ten or twenty in a Grand Tour and I can win stages. With proper development I can do really well. And if I don’t I tried it at least.”

His first race for Argos-Shimano was the GP Marseillaise. “It was also the first race I did in Europe ever. I was quite naive and crashed quite a few times. All the big teams were there which was quite humbling for a 18 or 19-year old guy who came from the amateur ranks in the States. I got my teeth punched in during those first races but just like other American I am hardheaded and it takes some time to break me.”

His race program for 2013 will include the Giro d’Italia. “Before that I will do Strade Bianche, which is one of the most beautiful races around,” he says, then adds with a smile, “when it’s dry. I will also race the Tour of Catalonia and Tour of the Basque Country before the Giro.”

Peterson finished the Giro in 2011 and the Vuelta in 2010 and 2012. That leaves one Grand Tour yet to start, the biggest of them all. It’s one of his goals for this year, and something he hopes comes off. “I am definitely hoping for the Tour de France. My name is on the preliminary roster,” he confirmed.

His role in the team, which evolves around sprinters like John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel, will be two-pronged. “I will do my work in the sprint train but I lack the speed to do the final. I will also do my job in breakaways. Who knows what I can do from a breakaway? I hope to be high up in the GC and make up some time by being in a breakaway. And win a stage, why not?”

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