Peter Stetina Interview: “I’ve never been to this part of the World, and I’m just taking it all in.”
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Peter Stetina Interview: “I’ve never been to this part of the World, and I’m just taking it all in.”

by Ben Atkins at 2:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de Langkawi
 
American hoping to take his chance in Langkawi; preparing to defend Ryder Hesjedal’s Giro title

Peter StetinaPeter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp) is making his very first appearance at le Tour de Langkawi, and he’s hoping to make it count. With just two of the ten stages not suiting the sprinters, it will be on the climbs to Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands that the 25-year-old is targeting, to try to take the overall race title for himself.

VeloNation’s Ben Atkins caught up with the Garmin-Sharp leader as he prepared himself for the second flat stage of the race.

“I came here to give it a shot, [to see] what I could do in the GC. I’ve had the best winter of training of my career to date,” Stetina said. “You know, you can do all the preparation you want, but every race you need some luck, but if you do everything right then at least the possibility is there for something good to happen.”

For Stetina, and the other climbers in the race, the opening two stages - which were both won by Blanco’s Theo Bos in high speed peloton sprints - were a case of staying safe in the peloton and keeping out of trouble.

“It was actually extremely easy yesterday,” Stetina explained. “I think all the teams wanted to get their legs moving, and start the day, and get settled in. The break went quickly and it was a nice tranquil day. We got to see the cool jungles.

“I’ve never been to this part of the World,” he added, “and I’m just taking it all in.”

While Stetina himself was staying out of the way in the first stage bunch sprint, teammate Steele Von Hoff was up at the front trying to get a result. The Australian took fourth place on stage one, which was seen as a good start for the Garmin-Sharp team.

“It was a quick and hectic finish,” Stetina explained. "There are a lot of fresh legs, and we’ve got our sprint team here, and then we’ve got two climbers here - that’s me and Caleb Fairley - so we just stayed out of trouble and those guys did their thing, and we got a good end on all fronts and good spirits.”

With two sprint stages out of the way, stage three will see the first serious climbing of the race as it finishes at the top of Cameron Highlands. It is this, and the even tougher fifth stage to Genting Highlands, that Stetina has prepared for, and where he hopes to make a difference.

“Well, Genting more,” he said. “Cameron seems like its always a small group finishing together, maybe one or two guys slip off. We’ve got some guys on the team who’ve done this race multiple years in the past, so I’m kind of banking on them for telling me how it goes.

“So yeah, sounds like Cameron’s important, but Genting is where it’s at,” he added. “But two days out of ten; you’ve got to be on for two days!”

Heading for the Giro in support of Hesjedal again

While Stetina has come to Langkawi in good form, the race is his first of the season and so he has obviously not hit his peak just yet.

“It’s hard to peak in February because there aren’t any other races,” he smiled. “You can do all the training you want but…”

Stetina’s top form will come later in the sprint, he hopes, but he will be hoping to hit his absolute peak for May and the Giro d’Italia. Last year’s edition of the Corsa Rosa saw Stetina and Christain Vande Velde instrumental in Ryder Hesjedal’s victory there. Notably, the two Americans were on hand to close the gap to Belgian breakaway Thomas De Gendt of Vacansoleil-DCM, who was seriously threatening Hesjedal’s pink jersey on the penultimate stage to the Passo dello Stelvio.

“I’ve got a good schedule and it’s all built up around the Giro, and Ryder’s defence of the Giro,” he explained. “I would like to do well here because I have freedom for me here, instead of playing the mountain domestique; so this is a goal in itself for me, and then I’ll be in the general spring climbing stuff.

“So I’ll be at Catalunya, Pays Basque, Flèche, Liège, Romandie, and the Giro,” Stetina continued. “If the form’s there, and the team realises it, then I have my shot. Otherwise I’ve shown that I can help Ryder and Christian on the big, big climbing stages.”

Recently, Garmin-Sharp team manager Jonathan Vaughters stated the team’s aim for 2013 was to defend its Giro d’Italia title. Undoubtedly, as the defending champion, Hesjedal will be the team leader going into the race, but should he falter for any reason, Stetina could potentially be allowed to follow his own ambitions in the race.

“You know, whether or not Ryder’s in shape - I have no doubt he will be, as he cares so much about the Giro now, and realises how it’s changed his career - he’ll be the best he can be there, and then whether or not the race plays out in his favour or not, it’s my job to be there in the best of my ability to support him,” Stetina affirmed.

“If something happens to him then I’ll have the form, but hopefully nothing does happen and it goes… because he is our best chance at the overall again. So we go there to support him, but you always have to be adaptive in bike racing.”

While Stetina has no definite programme post-Giro, the 25-year-old Coloradan knows which direction he wants it to go.

“It’s a goal of mine to make the Tour team, and then the fall season’s the fun season,” he said. “There’s Utah, Colorado and now Alberta, and then Quebec and Montreal; for six weeks in North America and I base myself out of home in California.

“It’s so much fun, you know.”

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