New coach inspires Belgium’s Peter Croes to a new Level of Racing
By: Barrie Shepley
“You can’t train like a junior and race the big boys.” - Peter Croes
Belgium’s Peter Croes showed great promise in junior racing where his incredible biking skills often launched him into a medal position before the run ever started. Many athletes do not make the transition from junior to elite racing very comfortably and Croes found himself struggling over the last few years.
“I was training hard, but I was not seeing the progression I expected from myself,” said the likable Belgian.
Croes played football non-stop from the time he was six years old. By the time he was twelve, Croes lost his passion for football, just as a local school triathlon grabbed his attention.
“I was lucky that I had early success in triathlon and before I knew it I was making European and World Junior teams,” said Croes.
Belgium’s best known athlete was Luc Van Lierde who helped put the country and sport on the map with his many victories in the 90s. While Van Lierde’s injuries eventually ended his brilliant career prematurely, he spent a lot of time with Croes and helped pass on his knowledge and wisdom to the second generation Belgian. For the three years, Croes found that the training program he was following was not going to get him to the next level of performances he expected and he made a coaching change nine months ago.
“Peter Timmermans is a combination of a great mentor and superb coach,” said Croes. “Sometimes I call him two or thee times a day to discuss training and give him feedback from a workout session.”
A top-12 performance in Richards Bay would essentially guarantee Croes a start at August’s Beijing Olympic Games. Editor’s note: Croes finished 15th in Richards Bay
“Peter really understands me and has created a program that is based more on speed and
allows me to go the kind of speed I have to race at if I want to be successful,” said Croes.
He admitted the first three or four months of the new training program was tough and he was always fatigued. But Croes’ body has finally adjusted to the intense work and he had a break through race in New Zealand with a top-5 finish at the tough New Plymouth BG Triathlon World Cup Race.
“I knew going into the race, I had finally done the training of the big guys,” said Croes and acknowledged that he may now be able to adjust his racing tactics just a bit. “In the past, knowing my run was much weaker, I had to try to manufacture a breakaway on the bike to give myself 75- to 90-second lead on the big runners,” said Croes.
Croes is not the only athlete in his family, as his girlfriend is a top volleyball player in Italy. “My coach was able to accommodate my big winter training miles to be done in Italy so I was able to see my girlfriend this winter,” said Croes.
He doesn’t have unrealistic expectations for the 2008 Beijing Games.
“I know how hard Simon Whitfield and Javier Gomez train and I am not physically strong enough to knock them off…YET,” said Croes. “But I am able to keep working as hard as I have in the past year, anything is possible in the future,” said the popular Belgian.
Regardless of how much his swim and run improves those of who follow the sport will always marvel at the biking ability Croes possesses.
“When I get into the lead in a race, I seem to have wings,” said Croes.
One has to think that at just 24 years of age and a great attitude, the world could be at his
feet heading into London in 2012.
Barrie Shepley is proudly known as the voice of the ITU, announcing over 100 races in the past 20 years. Barrie was Canada’s head coach for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Team and has the privilege of watching the top ITU triathlon stars on a weekly basis.