Stetina savours Tour de France return

American rider with big hopes for Mollema

Peter Stetina will make his return to the Tour de France on Saturday and the 28-year-old will look to savour every minute of it after continuing his recovery from a life-threatening crash.

Last April the American collided with poorly marked traffic bollards and fractured his tibia, kneecap and four ribs at the Tour of the Basque Country. He missed the Tour de France as a result but after a length recovery period has begun to find his form.

"This is another step in proving that I’m back to where I should be," he told Cyclingnews at the team presentation ahead of the Tour on Thursday.

"I’m trying to put that accident behind me. To be selected for the Tour is gratifying in itself. I know you can’t get complacent with just starting, and I’m not, but it means something extra to be back here because that’s where my career was before, being in the Tour team and in the mountains with the leaders."

In 2014 – his first and only appearance at the Tour - Stetina battlted to 35th overall but more importantly, helped his then teammate Tejay van Garderen finish in the top five. He was a key climbing domestique for the BMC Racing leader and helped pick up his team leader after one particularily difficult day in the mountains.

Now at Trek-Segafredo, Stetina is fully endorsing Bauke Mollema’s overall challenge.

"I’m here to do that with Bauke now and be there for him in the mountains. If you can climb well on the climbs then it ends up being good for you but we’re all in for Bauke now and if the cards fall right then he can podium or top five.”

Before anyone, including Stetina and Mollema, reach the mountains they must navigate through a difficult and tense opening week at the Tour de France. Trek-Segafredo have a number of powerhouses in the team, including Fabian Cancellara, and they will be charged with protecting Mollema while Stetina keeps his powder dry and legs safe.

"I just want to stay upright and get through it. It’s going to be a nervous first week but luckily the mountains come sooner rather than later and once we’re in the mountains, we’re really in the mountains. So for me it’s about staying safe and then getting into my playing ground."

Stetina joined Trek-Segafredo on a one-year deal and the American team have helped him reach the top once more. Although several teams are interested in his services for the future, the former BMC and Garmin rider hinted that he would re-sign. Regardless of where and who he rides for in 2017, each and every team could do with a slice of his outlook on racing.

“Things are moving in the right way and I hope to have news maybe by the start or the first rest day. My agent does all that and he sends me a text every day but he’s doing all that,” he told Cyclingnews.

“I’m just really happy to be racing and if you’ve found a good thing, a good job and a good life then everything comes as a bonus. I’m just enjoying it now and you realise that even though there are things that guys can bitch about, we’re doing a dream job for 10 years of our lives and then it’s done. I’m just enjoying it and I want to keep doing it for as long as I can, as long as the knee and the body holds up."

Hear more from Peter Stetina later this week in the Cyclingnews podcast.Download the podcast here

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