Peeters focusing hard. © Kristel Van Gilst

Peeters focusing hard. © Kristel Van Gilst

by Christine Vardaros

After a successful Christmas period of racing followed by an impressive silver medal at Belgian National Championships, Rob Peeters appears to have timed his form to perfection for Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide on February 2nd.  Not only does he want to come out on top for himself and for his thousands of supporters but also for his new team Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace Cycling Team .  After four seasons with Telenet-Fidea, Peeters made the switch on January 1st.

As Vastgoedservice is a real estate agency and Golden Palace is an online casino, they are both very familiar with high stakes gambling.  When they chose to build a continental team around Peeters, they rolled the dice in hopes of a big payoff.   “In the beginning of the season, the results weren’t that good so maybe they were thinking that it wasn’t what they expected. But then the Christmas period started and it all changed. They were finally very happy, although they did say to me that they preferred I wait until New Year for good results and not to blow my good legs on the races until then. [chuckles] But yeah, when I have the opportunity to have a good race, I take it.”  He did just that when he crossed the line at Zolder World Cup in fifth place – first Belgian across the line.  The next couple of days immediately following Zolder, Peeters scored two secondplaces at BPost Bank Trofee Loenhout and Bredene.

As for pressure coming from the team, Peeters admits that he puts way more pressure on himself than the team could ever place on him. “Before my race at Nationals, after our team had just won the U23 champion jersey through Jens Adams, the team guys came to me and said that their day is already good so there’s no pressure from them to perform.  That was, for me, a nice feeling so I could do my own race and not have to think too much about pleasing others.  It’s the first time I was a little bit of a favorite for the Belgian Nationals and then it’s for me normally difficult to follow through but now it thankfully worked out.” It surely did as he finished in second behind the unbeatable Sven Nys.  The following day, he again landed on the podium at Otegem.

Going into Worlds he is again one of the pre-race favorites. “For me, if I can continue riding like this until the World Championships, then I’ll be very happy. Holding your fitness for the couple of weeks leading up to Worlds is something you don’t have real control over. You can just keep an eye on your health by being careful with the cold weather. For the rest you don’t have any control.  I don’t think about it too much but yeah, I’ve had no illness the whole season so I hope that I can hold it through Worlds. After that, it’s OK to have a good disease – whatever [laughs].”

If the course conditions are just right, we should see Peeters once again on the podium as we’ve seen him before in Koksijde World Championships two years ago.  “When there is a little rain and it’s not freezing, it’s very good for me. I think that I have a chance to be on the podium then. But if it is fast and frozen then it’ll be more difficult.”

As for his pick of who will share the podium with him, Peeters muses, “Sven [Nys] for sure and maybe Niels [Albert] or [Martin] Bina.  But when it’s frozen, I give Bina the best chance. But in mud… [grins widely].”

When asked how he’d feel if he won the race, Peeters is quick to respond.  “Those are things that I don’t think about because it can make you crazy. When it comes, it comes. But when I start to dream, it’s not good for me.”

The week between the penultimate test in Soudal Classics Leuven and World Cup Nommay, Peeters is in Calpe, Spain for one last training camp to finely tune his form for the big day – while doing the rain-dance in his free time.

Stay tuned for more interviews with racers going for the gold at Worlds!