Wilfried Peeters was truly one of the hardest of hardmen in PRO cycling. A domestique of the tallest order, Wilfried was Johan Museeuw's roommate and confidante. Whether riding along side Johan during his PRO years or serving as the voice over race radio today, Wilfried's job is to provide the team with encouragement, tactical strategies and insight from his own experiences.
Today Wilfried serves as Director Sportif (DS) for the Quick Step team and BKW was fortunate enough to capture some of Wilfried's time. We used the opportunity to talk about the transition from rider to DS, his love for the Classics, and that muddy Spring day in April 2001 when Wilfried launched the ride of his career through French farmland in an effort to capture the Queen of the Classics. It was on this historical day that race fans saw first-hand the power of a dedicated Classics squad and meticulous team tactics and were introduced to a new phrase in the cycling vernacular: "Getting Domoed".
BKW: How has the transition from PRO to DS been for you?
WP: Life has changed. It's like a new life. Here, [as DS for Quick Step] you're working for 60 people, 30 riders...as a rider you think only about yourself. Here is a big difference, on a team with Boonen and Bettini, two leaders. One day for Boonen, one day for Bettini.
BKW: Are you saying that there is no conflict of goals for Boonen and Bettini?
WP: No, there is no problem.
BKW: Do you miss being a rider?
WP: For the first six months, now it is finished. In the beginning, it's normal, I was 37 years old. Being with a team that is good means that every day there is something to do. That is very important.
BKW: Do you prefer the Classics to the Grand Tours?
WP: Yeh, for the Grand Tours, I did nine (9) times at the Tour De France, one (1) time Tour of Spain, I like it for working for the team. Not for myself, in the hills and the big climbs; I'm not a big climber. I was good in the Classics.
BKW: And your favorite?
WP: Tour of Flanders.
BKW: Can you tell me about 2001 Paris-Roubaix?
WP: 2001 was my last year. Very bad weather. The stones were very sandy inside, in the first cobble stones we [Domo] go with the breakaway, 20-30 riders. At Arenberg, we were in the first and third position, so I go. I had one minute on the other riders so for the next 90-95Ks I go alone. I was alone until the last 13K. I didn't have the legs for winning, but we had the best team. In the end it came together, the team was first, second, and third. I finished 5th. From the results, it was a very bad day for me.
BKW: How did you feel knowing this was your last professional race?
WP: At that moment, okay. I think I can go one year more. I want to win it one time.
At this time, I had the condition, it was a perfect time to come and work for the team; but it was time to stop.
BKW: What makes Paris-Roubaix so special?
WP: The roads and it is man-to-man. It is a different race.
BKW: Truly for the hardmen.
BKW: Do you feel a special honor to be a part of Paris-Roubaix history?
WP: Yah, I like this race. After 10Ks, the race changes and after 100Ks, it is totally different. The strongest man is going to win this race.
BKW: As DS for Quick Step, does a younger rider like Boonen stand to gain or learn anything from your experiences?
WP: Now he is 27. Pretty much...he knows the race, he's the leader. I read the situations and he makes the decisions. That makes us the favorite for the race.