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Introducing Alex Peters!

| Cycling Plus | 01/03/2013 16:12pm

© Geoff Waugh/Madison GenesisLess than 24hrs after finishing the recent, and gruelling, 4-day Challenge Mallorca, Tobias Mews managed to catch up with Team Madison-Genesis’ youngest and possibly most enthusiastic rider, 18-year Alex Peters.

I’ve heard that you were a runner before you took up cycling. Why did you swap sports?
At around the age of 11, I decided I wanted to be a marathon runner. So, for several years – until I was about 14 – I trained really hard, thinking I could just run and run and run. But because I was under 15, the furthest I could officially run in a track and field competition was actually 3000m.  I was still developing, so actually ran far too much and ended up wearing away the cartilage in both my knees, to the point where it was simply bone on bone. I went to see various consultants who told me to take two years off in order to mend the damage. I listened to their advice because I was scared of what they were saying. Apparently, it could have been a lot worse! But, by luck that’s how I got into cycling. After being told to stop running, I decided I needed to keep fit but do a non-impact sport. So I got on a bike and never looked back.

You’re 18 so you didn’t leave school very long ago. Fond memories?
Before primary school, I couldn’t speak properly – maybe one two words here and there. I didn’t even know the alphabet. So primary school itself was hard for me because, academically, I developed really, really slowly. In fact, thinking about it now, I still can’t speak properly! (Laughs.) I wasn’t into school at all. I hated everything about it. It felt, what I imagined prison to be like . And I didn’t like learning – I just wanted to be doing a physical activity. I remember, in particular, hating the food served at the school dinners. I wanted to be an athlete and thought, ‘This is disgusting! How can they possibly serve this?’ So, I complained a lot to the school. Gradually, I got them to introduce better food and salads and take away some of the greasy nonsense. And ever since then, they have have given everyone in the school Friday afternoon off, where they go running in the park.

© Geoff Waugh/Madison Genesis

 

How did you come to join Madison-Genesis?
I had received interest from other teams, but then Roger Hammond called me up and said ‘I’m in London. Why don’t we meet up for a coffee?’ I immediately jumped at the opportunity and ended up meeting with Roger, Kellie Parsons (Marketing Manager at Madison) and Anthony McCrossan of Cyclevox. We discussed what they would be offering and answered any questions I had about where I want to be going. They seemed really excited, really enthusiastic – which kind of rubbed off on me. I thought ‘This seems really good!’ And obviously having Roger Hammond to show me the ropes, was an amazing opportunity. I remember him talking about how he made mistakes through his career and that he wants to pass on his knowledge to other riders in the hope they don’t have to make the same mistakes.

Why do you think Roger selected you for the team? What do you think he saw in you?
Last year I won the national junior series and I won a couple of national junior races. [Alex also represented GB at the 2012 UCI Road World Championships in Limburg] Maybe he heard from other riders that I was strong? But what I really hope is that he saw someone who is keen and wants to achieve something in cycling.

What do you consider to be your proudest moments or achievements?
I don’t think there’s much to be proud of yet. [Some might disagree with this]

What’s your strength on the bike?
The way my body is, I’m suited to becoming a GC rider: I can time trial, I can climb and I can hold my own in a bunch. All these things are what makes a GC rider. And of course being able to recover well each day. Because I’m light, I have a pretty good threshold and the way I’m developing, I can hopefully stay like this, increase power and be a very good Grand Tour rider. But if it turns out that I grow outwards and become heavier and more powerful, and therefore suffer more on the climbs, then I will probably never become a GC rider.

You still live with your parents in London. They must be hugely supportive?
I feel extremely indebted to my parents, because without their support, none of this would be possible. Even though my mum works for the post office and my dad is a computer programmer, they have taken a big interest in cycling and have tried to understand what I’m going through. Without their help and support, I don’t know how I’d get to the races – they’re scattered all over the country.

© Geoff Waugh/Madison Genesis

 

What’s planned for 2013?
I don’t think anyone on the team knows exactly what we’re going to be doing, because the race calendar is always changing, but I have a rough idea. The next big race is the Tour of Taiwan in March [Alex was not selected], but because we’re a British team, the publicity will be mainly based around the Tour Series and the Premier Calendars. Selection for these races is going to be based on what we’re good at and whose on form at that moment. Because most races only allow 5 or 6 man teams, and there are 10 riders on a team, you have to roll through it pretty open minded. You can’t just say, ‘Oh I really wanted to target this or compete for this,’ because everyone has to deal with that. In fact, according to Roger, every cyclist, even world tour cyclists have to deal with that. The only people who really get to decide what they’re going to be doing are the Big Guns like Fabian Cancellara or Bradley Wiggins.

Obviously, apart from Roger [Hammond], who’s your cycling idol?
I love Alberto Contador for his attacking style. He’s fearless.

What’s so great about cycling?
When you’re out on your bike, you can ride 150km and see so many different places. And it’s just really enjoyable. With running, on the other hand, although it feels good, you just don’t see as much.

What does it feel like to be a professional cyclist? What’s the buzz?
When I’m out training, I’m thinking about racing. For example, I’m out on the road, maybe it’s horrible weather and I’m struggling a bit. I look further down the road and I think, ‘OK! I’m going to be racing, I want to be fit, I want to enjoy it, I want to be a contender and I’m thinking only about first place.’ So, therefore, I’ve got to train hard. It may not be enjoyable at first but it’s always satisfying once you complete, let’s say 3 weeks of really hard work, when you know you’re on form and that you know you’re improving. I love seeing progress, which is why I love training with power. You can track how you’re doing, so that you can train at the optimum levels, putting just enough stress on your body, and then recover to tackle the next session. I want to do everything I can to be in the best condition to race, because I love competing.

Tell us about the rush you get in a competition. What’s it like?
When I’m competing, especially in a one day race, I like to race for first place. I just get this good sensation all over. I don’t think too much at the start of the race, because once I got a number on my back, I get into the zone. I know what I have to do, I know what it takes to win and I know how much it’s going to hurt. But I also know the satisfaction I get when I’m first to cross the finish line. At this point, everything…just feels right.

You recently competed in Challenge Mallorca, alongside teams like Team Sky and Lampre-Merida. You can’t have thought that you were going to win, so how do you manage your expectations if you’re used to winning?
I’m OK, as long as I have the task to do. If I know I can’t win, I think, ‘Who can?’ Maybe we have a contender, maybe we have someone who can win? In fact, we do have someone: Ian Bibby [who finished 10th on Day 3 of Challenge Mallorca] This week, I rode for him and in helping him out, I got a different type of buzz, because I knew how he would feel if he wins. At the moment I know I’m not in good enough condition to win the race. But I’ll go away and train so I can be where Bibby is. Until then, I will just have to settle for helping. And if I keep improving, to the stage where eventually I’m going for the win, well….that’s what keeps me pedalling!

Keep up to date with Madison Genesis here! And follow Alex Peters on Twitter.

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