Stetina targetting California and Tour de France in 2015

American proud of Tour debut

Peter Stetina (BMC Racing) will target the Tour of California and a return to the Tour de France in 2015. Stetina made his debut at the Tour de France last season where he rode in support of Tejay van Garderen. It was an experience that put him through the ringer but, in spite of himself, he’s eager to put himself through it again this coming July.

"There were a lot of times when we were just scared riding in the bunch and you wonder why you do it, but then you finish and you want to do it again," Stetina said during BMC's training camp in December. "It is this love-hate relationship and it was a lot of fun. I can't believe that I'm saying this but I really want to do it again and race the Tour, even though I know that I'll hate July.

Stetina's debut at the Tour de France was not an easy one with his team leader getting caught up in several crashes during the first 10 days of the race, including the one that ended the hopes of defending champion Chris Froome. They were dealt another major blow when they lost Darwin Atapuma before they reached the big mountains. "This Tour was a Tour of adversity," said Stetina.

"We were so proud of his fifth place this year, even though we thought that he was capable of much more. It was the fact that we all had to rally around him and that really was an entire team effort. We had to scrape around for that fifth place because every day something was going wrong and the fact that we all banded together and fought for that was cool to be a part of."

For their efforts, van Garderen gave each of his Tour de France teammates a present. "He wasn't obligated to but he actually gave us all a gift. He had dog tags made because we went through war together. We got a matching pair of dog tags all nine of us."

Stetina will be working for a different leader in Cadel Evans when he starts his season at the Tour Down Under. The 27-year-old was brought into the team to replace Brent Bookwalter who has been forced to delay the start to his year due to a toe injury. Stetina and his teammates will stay on in Australia to ride Evans' farewell race the Great Ocean Road Race before returning for the spring classics.

The American may get an opportunity to lead the team in May at the Tour of California. Stetina finished sixth in last year's edition of the race 2:30 behind the race winner Bradley Wiggins. Stetina hails from Boulder, Colorado but resides in Santa Rosa, California where the team is also based and sees this as a home race for him.

"As the Californian on the team I get to ride that and I'm really looking forward to that. That will be my big goal for the year," he said. "It sounds like the course will be more climber friendly compared to last year which was more time triallist friendly. Cali will be my personal big goal. Now I'm in California I get to spend a lot more time there and BMC is Santa Rosa as well so I'm always excited about that one."

The Tour of California will begin on May 10 in Sacramento and finishes in Pasadena on May 17.

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