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Stetina abandons WorldTour for gravel racing

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Peter Stetina announced on Wednesday that he is leaving the WorldTour to focus on gravel and ultra-endurance mountain bike racing. The American told Cyclingnews in October that he would leave Trek-Segafredo, but at the time was not yet ready to make his plans public.

Stetina posted a progression of images from his time in the WorldTour with Garmin, BMC and Trek-Segafredo to his Instagram account, including one of him wearing the best young rider's jersey in the 2012 Giro d'Italia. He also included a picture of himself being worked on by medics after his devastating crash in the first stage of the 2015 Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco.

It took Stetina four months to come back from the crash, which left him with a broken kneecap and tibia. He was later afflicted by the Epstein Barr virus during a subpar 2018 season and was close to retirement before getting a late reprieve in the form of a contract extension with Trek-Segafredo.

This season, Stetina mixed an alternative calendar of gravel racing with a full WorldTour season that included a top-10 in the Tour of Utah and a 28th-place finish in the Vuelta a España.

When asked about his future at the Tour of Guangxi, which was his final WorldTour race, Stetinta expressed his pleasure in racing off-road.

"It's been a really fun year, you know," Stetina told Cyclingnews last month. "I've had more fun this year than I've had the last few years, for sure. Just having a nice level, a good fitness all year, doing some of those adventure races, having a good Vuelta. Yeah, it's been a nice season.

"Gravel is kind of the new excitement in the US scene. I grew up on the mountain bike, and I've always ridden off-road for a bit of training and in the off-season, so it's been quite an easy choice for me to hop into those and just experience the community of cycling."

In his Instagram post, Stetina emphasised that the move is not retirement.

"Ultimately this is a move of freshness, joy, progression, and longevity. This IS NOT a retirement as some traditionalists would think," he wrote. "Rather I am throwing my entire self into the burgeoning world of Gravel Racing and being a bike racer across all tire widths. While the initial steps to leave the World Tour behind were scary, I am certain this is the right choice, it will be more fulfilling and I hope more successful.

"I love the vibe of these races: The solo battles within and with others, but the communal celebration afterwards knowing we all conquered an Odyssey individually and together. I will represent brands who value this and I want to immerse myself in this world. This is my happy place."