Features Interviews

Alex Peters interview: back at the races

A catch-up with the Alex Peters on his recent renewal

Perhaps the most eye-catching result on stage 2 at the Tour of Britain was Alex Peters’ third place.

Peters is no stranger to performing well at the Tour of Britain. He finished 12th overall in the 2015 edition when he was just 21. He joined Team Sky the following season and at that point, he seemed to be on the verge of becoming one of the world’s best.

Within a year, however, this sunny forecast turned bleak when his struggles with anxiety led him deep into depression that ultimately saw him quitting the sport at the end of 2017. After impressing in a few outings as an independent rider in the National Road Series in 2019, however, he joined Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes in 2020. The global pandemic put paid to that season of course, but this year, with the support of his new team, SwiftCarbon Pro Cycling, Peters seems to be rediscovering both his form and his confidence.

I often doubt my ability to produce good results. If I have gentle encouragement I manage myself far better

He put together a string of strong results in the UK this season before completing a solid ride in the heat at the 10-stage Volta a Portugal last month. On his return, he won the Ryedale Grand Prix and now, at the Tour of Britain, he is riding high in 5th overall heading into the stage team time trial.

With the help of our audio diarist Andy Turner, we caught up with Peters about his remarkable start to the race.

Peters winning 2021 Ryedale GP. Photo: James York

How was the form coming into the Tour of Britain?

Pretty decent off the back of Portugal. I’m happy the team got to ride that because otherwise, we wouldn’t have had much racing at all apart from some UK races.

I’m not a confident person, and the win came more from the encouragement I got from the riders and the support around me. When that’s in place, I can believe again

To what extent did your win at the Ryedale Grand Prix boost your confidence coming into this race?

I’m not a confident person, and the win came more from the encouragement I got from the riders and the support around me. When that’s in place, I can believe again. I should probably try to gain self-confidence too, which may come eventually.

You’ve started the Tour of Britain race really well. Tell us about how stage 1 went for you

I think if I’d had more belief in my legs I could have fought for the win, or at least try and place in the top ten because it was uphill to the finish. I was poorly placed entering the draggy climb mostly because I’ve been out of the sport a long time and I guess I talked myself out of giving it a proper go!

I guess my body can produce a fast finish if it’s been a hard day with sapping climbs all day

And third place on stage 2. Talk us through how it went for you, particularly the tricky finale

Pete Williams was on the radio and said ‘Alex, move up and go for it’, so I did. I think it was a heavy day with the climbs and it suits me when it’s been a tough day; it takes some of the speed off the final sprint. I am not usually up for sprinting but I guess my body can produce a fast finish if it’s been a hard day with sapping climbs all day. It makes it more possible to fight and contend.

Peters (second from right) at the Ryedale GP. Photo: James York

If someone had told you that you would finish 3rd in a stage of the Tour of Britain before you started the race, would you have believed them?

Sort of. I often doubt my ability to produce good results. If I have gentle encouragement I manage myself far better. I think most people work best in an environment where people have confidence in you and have the capability to work with someone as shy as me.

To what extent do you think a good GC result for you is possible now

I’m climbing ok, not super fast, and carrying extra weight so it’ll be a big ask with the team time trial as well, which places a slight disadvantage on the smaller teams. It’s not on my mind at all. I’ll try my best on the punchy climbs coming up and see what happens.

Featured photo: James York