A spin with Stetina

Apr 9, 2014
Category: Rider Interviews 

California resident Peter Stetina welcomes the pressure of being team leader at the 2014 Amgen Tour of California. With his teammate and last year’s champion Tejay van Garderen electing not to defend his title to focus on training for the Tour de France, the 26-year-old in his first season with BMC Racing after eight seasons with Garmin-Sharp assumes the mantle of leadership. The Colorado-born Stetina, who lives in Santa Rosa where the team is headquartered, is prepping for only his second California rendezvous. He raced ATOC in 2010 and spent the last few editions racing the Giro d’Italia. Stetina will return to the Golden State next month with this race at the top of his list of goals for this season. Cycling is his family’s lineage as his father, Dale, and uncle, Wayne, both raced professionally. Racing in France this week at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Stetina took time to answer the Insider’s questions.      

Insider: Will you be pre-riding any of the courses ahead of the Amgen Tour of California? If so, which ones?

Peter Stetina: I’ve already done a lot of it, but yes, I am. I’m making sure I know almost all of the route. I have already pre-ridden Mount Diablo because it is only an hour and a half drive from my house. I went and rode that in mid-February. I am going to see the time trial on my way up to Lake Tahoe in about 2 weeks. And I might travel down and ride that thing a few times. I’ve done the coast ride in the past from Big Sur all the way down to the San Luis Obispo/Pismo Beach area so I know the route real well. At training camp this year, we went over the highway pass in Santa Barbara so I’ve done that part. I’ve already reconned the Mountain High mountaintop finish and I know the Thousand Oaks final circuit from when I did the race in 2010.

Insider: Two mountaintop finishes look to suit your skills as a climber. Do you think they will be decisive in the overall victory or do they come too early in the race?

Stetina: Well the first one probably comes too early in the race, but the second one, Mountain High, is at the end of the race. I think a mountaintop finish is a mountaintop finish at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter if you’re pressured or tired. It’s where the climbers will take time so of course they have to be decisive and I think they will be.

Insider: This year, the time trial comes early. Do you think the Stage 2 time trial will have much of an impact on the overall GC?

Stetina: Actually I think it’s the most important (stage) because it’s flat or relatively flat. It seems kind of rolling and fast and you have a guy like Wiggo (Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins) there, that’s where they can take a lot of time. I think the time trial played a huge part of success at Tour of California in the past. They’ve always made sure the time trial is a key part of the overall and it remains to be seen whether or not there are time bonuses on stages. If there are time bonuses on the mountain finishes then that will put the favor back in the hands of the climbers. I haven’t heard what the rules are yet.

Insider: Where does ATOC rank in your individual goals for this season?

Stetina: It’s my big goal. It’s my No. 1 objective this year for my personal ambitions. My big goals for the year are to race well in the Tour of California and then race alongside Tejay (van Garderen) in the Tour de France to help him succeed there. Those are my individual goal and my team goal. Those are the big ones.

Insider: How important is it for an American to win America’s Greatest Race?

Stetina: It’s hugely important. Whenever we do have California or Colorado or Utah, the Americans all bring their A game and they step up. It is more familiar to us. There’s family and we’re happier. I mean it’s a huge goal for me and it gives that extra incentive. I’ll have family out there cheering alongside the road and friends so it’s motivating.

Insider: With Tejay not defending his title, do you feel the pressure as BMC Racing’s GC leader to deliver a win at ATOC?

Stetina: A little bit, but it’s a healthy pressure. I want that pressure. I’m excited to have my shot to really go for it and you’ve got to try to do everything right. I’m excited for it. I mean if you weren’t feeling a little bit of pressure and you weren’t a little nervous for it, then I think there is something a little wrong with you, but it’s all healthy.

Insider: Where is your favorite place to ride in California? What is your favorite place to visit in California?

Stetina: I used to live in Colorado and for my winter training, I used to head down to SoCal and Orange County where my Uncle Wayne lives and stay with him. I’ve done a lot races down there like Redlands and San Dimas, San Diego and all that. I’ve also done a lot of Grande Fondo type of events so I’ve seen a lot of California. But my favorite place to ride is home in Santa Rosa. There is a reason why a lot of pros live there.

If I’m going on a little vacation, I am a big fan of Mendocino up north or the Tahoe area where you get more mountains and some more climate change - a weather change. Both of those are nice.

Insider: You come from a family of professional cyclists. What made you want to follow in the footsteps of your father and uncle?

Stetina: You know everyone thinks I was always pushed into it, but I never was. We used to go on bike rides for fun, but I was actually playing on a soccer team and my teammate was on a local YMCA mountain bike team. We would do some fun rides around with our dads after we go to tournaments in whatever part of the state (Colorado) we were in. I was pretty good at that. Then I ended up joining that YMCA club and did the 24 Hours of Moab. It was a fun experience and I was stoked. Once I did get into it after I found it on my own, my family ties were there to support me and I could really dive into it.

Insider: Cycling has come a long way since your father and uncle were pros. When it comes to equipment, training methods, nutrition and recovery, everything has changed dramatically. Are they able to offer you any helpful advice? If so, what is the best advice they have given you that perhaps you might hand down to your children should they chose to follow the family trade?

Stetina: The sport has changed a lot and tactics have changed and technology has changed, but the human body hasn’t changed. And especially when they were pros, they trained more out of feel rather than by power numbers and they learned to be really in tune with their bodies and they always helped me like that. And another thing that hasn’t changed is genetics. I do have my dad’s genetics. He knows when I’m feeling one way or another after a race. He can recall and say “Oh, I’ve been like that after Coors Classic back in ’79.” He’s always got insight. For example, “If you just ride 3 hours really easy every day -spinning the legs really lightly - maybe do a sprint every half an hour, the legs will come good in a week.” And lo and behold, I do. Yeah, it’s really nice. It’s kind of like I’ve got a clone who has done it all before me 30 years earlier. I don’t have as much trial and error on my part.