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Garmin-Transitions granted Peter Stetina, the newest and youngest member of the ProTour team, a start spot in the Amgen Tour of California, which kick off on Sunday, May 16, in Nevada City. The talented climber is relishing over the tough domestique duties expected of him for teammates and top contenders Dave Zabriskie, Tom Danielson and Ryder Hesjedal.
“This race is number one on my calendar,” Stetina told Cyclingnews. “My season goal was to make the Tour of California roster. Being on an American ProTour team, this is one of the most important races in the entire year for us.”
“I am close to my top ever form just to make the roster and be able to help Zabriskie, Danielson and Hesjedal,” he added. “I think we are going with a great team and we have ambitions of winning.”
Stetina, 23, signed on with Garmin-Transitions following a successful 2009 season with its Under 23 counterpart Holowesko Partners. He is entering the Tour of California well-prepared with nearly 30 race days under his belt. In his first year as a ProTour rider, he has participated in the Vuelta Ciclista a La Murcia, Volta Catalunya, GP Miguel Indurain, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
“Every race I’ve done has been the biggest race of my life and then I go to the next one and I think, ‘oh no, this is the biggest one,’ Stetina said. “I’ve been a student. It’s been a lot of no pressure so far. I’ve been in a lot of races with Zabriskie and Hesjedal so I’m pretty much just told to race for the breakaway and also help out by positioning the guys around or by going back to get bottles.”
At the Amgen Tour, Stetina will have his hands full riding in support of Dave Zabriskie, who placed second to three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Team RadioShack) last year. The remaining roster includes Tom Danielson, Ryder Hesjedal, Steven Cozza, Robbie Hunter, Thomas Peterson and Matthew Wilson. He envisions his role as a helper in the mountainous stages, particularly over ascents like the Bonny Doon Road in stage three and Big Bear Lake on stage six.
“I’ve done a lot of racing and climbing,” Stetina said. “I came back to my home in Boulder and have been doing a lot of climbing intervals again and again and again. Basically, I’ve been riding hard every day but with all the races I’ve done has been my training with some speed intervals to get ready for the Tour of California.”
“The team is expecting a lot of help from me,” he added. “My position is about trying to help our GC guys stay out of the wind. I think I’ll be riding in the wind a lot, riding hard on the climbs and giving Jonathan Vaughters an arm work out when I go back to feed for the bottles.”