Although Peter Moore ’23 races on the Nordic ski team at Bowdoin, his one true love is cycling—and in the past year, it’s taken him to France to compete for the AG2R Citroën U23 Cycling Team. Moore, another example of a high-achieving student-athlete on the Nordic ski team who would otherwise struggle to study, train and compete simultaneously, has taken advantage of this non-traditional year to put Bowdoin classes on pause and chase his cycling dreams.
Formerly known as the Chambéry Cyclisme Formation, the AG2R Citroën U23 Cycling Team is the pre-professional development organization for the professional AG2R Citroën team that races in the Tour de France each year. Moore is the only American on the team.
Despite being on a French-language team, Moore, who has taken French courses since the sixth grade, has had little difficulty fitting in with his European teammates. Still, the change in location came with some challenges.
“There’s a very different culture here: essentially, French culture is incredibly critical. And that can be hard at first,” Moore said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “But I have learned and grown from that, and I think it will serve me well at Bowdoin.”
Having taken classes online last semester, Moore has only experienced one full semester on campus during his Bowdoin career. This spring, Moore chose to take a personal leave of absence to pursue his cycling endeavors, as the logistical hurdles of pursuing a Bowdoin education several time zones away proved too great.
“Last fall I was able to live in Boulder, Colorado, and train with my coach, who lives there. It’s an incredible place to train for cycling, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that in a normal year,” Moore said. “I think the Bowdoin administration and professors in general are more relaxed about exemptions and supportive of students not following the normal path in times like these.”
Moore has also started a blog, which he updates about every two weeks. In it, he describes the status of the pandemic in France and highlights his own experiences on a pre-professional cycling team. Moore recognizes that this opportunity has been entirely dependent on the COVID-19 pandemic, and this gives him some pause.
“A part of me feels guilty that my athletic career is profiting from a pandemic, which is a pretty terrible thing to say,” Moore said. “But at the same time, it is true, and I have to acknowledge that.”
These worries, however, don’t seem to hold for the European members of the team.
“In Europe, high-level athletes are given exemptions for almost anything and everything,” Moore said. “So COVID, apart from some races being canceled, hasn’t affected us, even when crossing international borders. The other week, I was coming back from Italy to France, and when I came to the border, the border control said, ‘so what’s the reason you’re going to France?’ I started explaining what team I raced for, and as soon as he heard the name of the team, he said ‘Oh, you’re good. Go ahead.’”
Having arrived in France in January of this year, Moore will stay in Europe through the end of August. In total, he will have spent eight months away from his friends, family and his home of Minneapolis. Although he describes himself as mostly independent, Moore undoubtedly compensates for any hard days with drive and passion for the sport.
“You need to really be honest with yourself and check in to make sure that you’re training for the right reasons,” Moore said. “The sport is really going to test you, not just physically but mentally. You really have to want it enough to make it work.”