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Stetina to take care of unfinished business in 2018

Peter Stetina is ready for another run at Tour of California overall and says he believes in Mollema's chances to win the Tour.

SAN JUAN, Argentina (VN) — American Peter Stetina wants to take care of unfinished business this 2018 season.

Stetina is beginning his third year with Trek-Segafredo with his first race at Argentina’s Vuelta a San Juan. It will provide him the early base for the Tour of Oman in February, and his big personal goal is the Amgen Tour of California in May. He is prioritizing California along with the Tour de France, where he’ll support his teammate Bauke Mollema’s aspirations to win the overall.

The 30-year-old Stetina will return to California after placing sixth in 2014. In 2016, he placed second behind Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) on the Gibraltar climb — which is back in the route for 2018 — but eventually fell to 20th overall.

“We are returning to the Gibraltar mountain, which was a bittersweet pill but also a comeback announcement [for himself in 2016] so to speak. The course looks really nice, we are also going to Lake Tahoe where I live part-time,” Stetina told VeloNews.

“You always shoot to win, but there are many other factors that come into play. That’s the big star on my calendar, that and the Tour de France with Bauke.”

Mollema rode as high as second place in 2016 and threatened Chris Froome’s lead with just two mountain stages to race. However, he crashed and slipped out the overall classification to finish 11th.

“I think [Mollema can do it], remember that he was going to be second in 2016 until that one downhill,” Stetina added. “The team has belief in him and we are trying to build the best possible team around him.”

Stetina path to the Tour is unconventional as most race through April and take May off or race part of the Giro d’Italia. He will have to look after himself closely after California before returning to race in the Tour de Suisse mid-June and hopefully starting the Tour July 7.

“It’s just about managing that rest, if you peaked in May, it’s so tempting and easy just to try to keep it rolling to July, but you don’t realize it’s another two months of peak form, so you really have to take the foot off the gas pedal and relax through the last week of May and Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s going to be about using the Tour de Suisse as more of a build up instead of proving your Tour spot. You have to communicate with the team to let them know not to worry that I’m a little off the ball in Suisse, but it’s just the process, and Trek understands it.”

Stetina will try for victory when ahead of the Tour and while being the leader for the Tour of California, but he remains loyal all the same to helpers like Mollema and Alberto Contador in the past.

“It’s about keeping it fresh. As a professional athlete you have to have personal objections, and I get that in the Tour of California and maybe Oman next month, there are other races with the biggest players in the world and it’s about being there to help Bauke or whoever the leader is at the at moment. I enjoy racing and I’m still hungry for results.

“I have been proving myself as a selfless domestique, I take pride in that. Sometimes the best domestiques can get a bit selfish because they are so close. I pride myself to being loyal on what I say and what my job is, but at the same time, I like to have my own objectives here and there.”