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Garmin’s Peter Stetina working on his motor at the Giro d’Italia

One theme apparent in this year’s Giro d’Italia startlist is the presence of a number of young Americans. Peter Stetina (Garmin-Cervélo) will make his grand tour debut Saturday alongside teammate Tom Peterson, BMC Racing’s Chris Barton, Chad Beyer and Chris Butler, HTC-Highroad’s Craig Lewis and RadioShack’s Bjorn Selander.

2011 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Peter Stetina
Peter Stetina at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Stetina graduated to the pro ranks a year ago as the back-to-back American U23 time trial champion. One of the original members of Jonathan Vaughters’ development program in 2003, Stetina stepped to the Garmin squad and jumped immediately into the fire at races like the Tour of the Mediterranean and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

He earned a place in team’s Amgen Tour of California roster, where he finished 11th overall and second to Peter Sagan in the best young rider competition. Stetina learned last week he would miss the Amgen Tour in May and would instead be at the start of the Giro Sunday.

When Stetina spoke to VeloNews on the eve of Liège in late April, he said he was hoping for his first three-week tour nod in May.

“The next step in my career is that I need a grand tour to grow my motor,” said Stetina. “That’s what I want to do, so the most logical step is to get a grand tour in for the year at the Giro and then shut it down for the summer because there are no races during the Tour de France, and hopefully I’ll have that extra capacity when it comes to the tour in Colorado.”

Stetina’s big focus for the second half of the season will be the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in his home state of Colorado in late August. First, though, he hoped to come into the Giro under the radar.

“I’ll do Liège, Romandie, have week off to absorb all the good work I did and then start the Giro off with a bang,” he said. “(As an American) I think at the Giro you can almost sit back and relax a little bit because it’s so much about the Italians going crazy for the Italians.”

The 23-year-old will get his first dose of the tifosi at Friday’s team presentation in Turin. Before he was confirmed on the team’s roster, Stetina wasn’t afraid to show the cards on where he’d like to be on May 8.

“I like when the atmosphere is all excited,” he said. “It just keeps you entertained longer. I’m really excited to experience that. I hear so many good things about the Giro and I really hope I’m going to be there.”

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