LEON, Spain (VN) — Overshadowed in what’s been a wild and emotional week for Garmin-Sharp is the steady ride by Peter Stetina at the Volta a Catalunya.
Stetina’s performance — eighth overall going into Friday’s fifth stage — has been overshadowed by Ryder Hesjedal’s season debut and the return to racing of David Zabriskie, Tom Danielson, and Christian Vande Velde, not to mention Dan Martin’s “doblete” in Thursday’s mountain stage.
Entering his fourth pro season with Garmin, Stetina says the best is yet to come in his professional career.
“I got a little ways to go in this game,” Stetina told VeloNews. “I am in a good spot right now. I am working on being better. I had a good winter.”
While the likes of Tejay van Garderen and Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) and Garmin teammate Andrew Talansky garnering reams of press coverage, Stetina has been on a lower profile, yet ever-upward trajectory.
And he’s proving to be a valuable teammate. When he’s part of the team, the captains always seem to do very well.
He was 21st in his grand tour debut in the demanding 2011 Giro d’Italia and last year was a key member of Hesjedal’s Giro-winning effort. Later in the season, he rode to ninth overall at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge while supporting Vande Velde to win the overall.
“We won the Giro with Ryder and I helped Christian win Colorado and I got a top-10 along the way. It was fun,” he said. “Last year was good. You cannot settle for that. You’ve to build on it.”
Stetina is a homegrown rider within the Garmin organization, riding for the TIAA-CREF team in 2006-07 and the Slipstream U23 squad before joining Garmin in 2010.
Stetina is still looking for that breakout ride, yet he has the patience of knowing it could be only a question of time. Entering his fourth full season in the elite ranks, there are no more surprises.
“I am not as nervous as before. I know what to expect. My overall heart rate is lower,” he joked. “I still expect a lot out of myself. I am still motivated for my own results and to do well for the team.”
The Colorado native takes his chances in races like the Tour de Langkawi, where he was fourth overall, and the Catalunya tour before returning to his role as super domestique for the Giro.
“A lot of it’s based around the Giro defense for Ryder. You just have to make sure you’re at your best for it,” he said. “I got to take my own chance at Langkawi. That was fun and I got a good result there. I have a normal spring — Basque Country, Flèche, Liège, Romandie, Giro — all the climbing stuff.”
That Stetina considers that level of a racing calendar as “normal” reveals how far he’s come along.
Returning to the Giro to help Hesjedal defend the pink jersey is a pressing goal for not only Stetina, but also the entire Garmin team.
Riders are fighting for a spot on the Giro nine and Stetina hopes to be back at the Italian grand tour for the third consecutive year.
“The vibe is good going into the Giro. The team is not finalized yet, because 20 guys want to ride the Giro this year. It’s a good problem to have,” Stetina said. “It’s a big goal for this team. Ryder looks very motivated.”
For the rest of this week, Stetina gets back to the business at hand. Garmin will be riding to defend Martin’s slender 10-second lead to Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha).