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Alex Peters returns to pro cycling after three-year mental health battle

Joe Robinson
6 Dec 2019

The young Londoner has signed with Canyon-DHB-Soreen as he looks to get career back on track

Former Team Sky rider Alex Peters will make a return to professional cycling in 2020 with Canyon-DHB-Soreen after a three-year struggle with mental health.

The London-based rider broke into the Team Sky team in 2016 aged 22 alongside former schoolmate and training partner Tao Geoghegan Hart, with both being tipped at the time as the future generation of the team.

However, Peters only spent one full season with the British WorldTour team before leaving to rejoin the SEG Racing development team in 2017, for whom he never raced, deciding instead to take a break from cycling at the end of the 2017.

The 25-year-old has now revealed that his absence was due to 'putting himself under unreasonable pressure to make an instant impact' when he made the step up to WorldTour level.

'I don’t know what sent me spiralling into depression, I guess it was all to do with anxiety. I was riding for SEG Racing and was really enjoying it when I had some interest from World Tour teams,' said Peters.

'Team Sky wanted me, wanted to take me on as a stagiaire. It was pretty amazing. I think I was very urgent to make progress. I wasn’t viewing it as a journey and that creates a lot of unsettling feelings, when you want to be here but you’re actually over here.'

Peters continued by saying that the pressure stemmed from a self-expectation to win and eventually spurred him to visit psychiatrists and doctors for advice.

However, despite the decision to seek help, Peters had what he describes as a 'breakdown' while training in the off-season with SEG.

'That winter I trained with SEG and the racing season was about to get going when I just had a breakdown,' said Peters.

'I couldn’t get out on the bike, I couldn’t train and that’s when I stopped completely. I didn’t leave the house at all. I didn’t know what everything was about, I didn’t know what cycling was about to me and I didn’t know what the point in things were.'

While battling with his mental health, Peters spent time in hospital but thanks to the support of his family and close friends was able to turn full circle. Part of that was the realisation that cycling had been one of the aspects of his life that gave him enjoyment and so began to focus on getting back on the bike.

In doing so, he met with Canyon-DHB-Soreen manager Tim Elverson and after a five-hour conversation at the team HQ in Fleet, decided it was time to return to professional bike racing.

'It was really good and he was very enthusiastic. That motivated me to think I can get back into this cycling game and have fun.

'Tim wanted to take me on as a project. It is very difficult for someone new to the sport to retire on the grounds I retired. And then to make it back in is a hard thing without that support but I felt Tim offered me that with his enthusiasm.

'He said to me, and I thought it was really heartfelt, he just wants to see me enjoying the bike and having fun. To me, fun is being competitive and arriving at races in good condition. And Tim was saying if you’re having fun, you’re most likely to be on the winning team.'

Peters will be one of four new signings for the British Continental team in 2020 alongside under-23 National Champion Rob Scott and former Delko Marseille rider Brenton Jones.

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