Peter Stetina: Riding the Tour de France in support of Tejay van Garderen

Peter Stetina will ride the 2014 Tour de France with fellow American and new BMC Racing team-mate Tejay van Garderen

Peter Stetina kicked off his season three weeks ago at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. Wearing BMC Racing’s black and red colours, things have clearly changed from his time with team Garmin-Sharp. Instead of racing the Giro d’Italia, Stetina will help Tejay van Garderen try to win the Tour de France.

“My goal is to race the Tour with Tejay, that’s what BMC brought me in the team for,” the American told Cycling Weekly while applying sun block.

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“I can pursue some smaller stage races like the Tour of California and work with Tejay. We know how each other operates pretty well because we’ve known each other for years. The idea is to go to battle for each other in the races. I have a better connection with Tejay so I think I’ll be racing for him a lot this year.”

Van Garderen already placed fifth overall and won the young riders jersey at the Tour de France in 2012. This year, BMC Racing gave him the green light to lead its Tour team. Cadel Evans will instead try to win the Giro d’Italia.

American duo Stetina and van Garderen will team up in Paris-Nice for the first time. The rough path to the Tour also includes the Volta a Catalunya, the Tour of California and the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse. Stetina, 26, will train at his new California base prior to Paris-Nice.

He said that besides his and Van Garderen’s bond, which goes back to the national team, the team feels closer and ready “to go to battle for each other”. BMC Racing hosted pre-season camps in Park City, Utah, and Grenchen, Switzerland, “to get everyone to gel.” Stetina said, “BMC made a big effort to create a core group of guys.”

The camps eased Stetina, who spent his entire professional career prior to 2014 in Jonathan Vaughters’ blue and black argyle team.

“I’m happy I took that step. It was the right move at this point in my career and it’s a new motivation for me,” Stetina said.

“It was at difficult at first because I’d been with Garmin for so long and it felt a bit like family. Everything was so comfortable but comfort is a good thing and a bad thing. There’s apprehension because it’s change but as soon as I did the first team camp with BMC it felt like the right thing. It soothed my angst.”

Stetina clicked immediately. In San Luis, he placed second behind Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing) in the summit finish stage to Mirador del Potrero and seventh behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the hardest stage to El Amago. He said that he reached another level helping Ryder Hesjedal win the Giro d’Italia in 2012 and that he expects trying to deliver van Garderen at the Tour will lift him higher.

“Christian [Vande Velde] jokes with me and says that day to the Stelvio in the [2012] Giro was the day I grew up and became a man,” Stetina explained. “You learn a lot by helping defend the lead in a Grand Tour, especially when it was a tight fight against Purito [Joaquím Rodríguez]. I hope that if we ever get into that situation at the Tour that I’ll have a little bit of experience to draw on and know how to handle it.”