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"It's disappointing, but there are other Tours of California, they've used Baldy in the past ... I'm not even 30 yet.. They've said this is by no means career-ending, and I plan on being back."

Photo: Sirotti


22.04.2015 @ 20:36 Posted by Joseph Doherty

After spending ten days in a Spanish hospital, BMC climber Peter Stetina has finally been allowed home to America. With a broken leg and shattered kneecap, the American will be out for a while but he has vowed to come back better than ever. He described how the accident during the second stage of the Tour of the Basque Country occurred:


"We were 500m to go in the sprint ... and guys had their heads down. A few guys were swerving at the last minute, a few guys clipped them, and I was in the middle of the bunch that plowed into it," Stetina said. "It was one of those crashes where you didn't even have time to realize you're going down. It was just knee-first directly into a metal pole at 60 kilometres per hour."


He now bears scars similar to that of compatriot and fellow teammate Taylor Phinney after the operations on his leg. He was keeping in good humour about the incident and his injury, even though it hurt him a lot.


"I have a plate all along the tibia and I have a bunch of chicken wire and needles holding my kneecap together ... The best news of all is that it's all bone, and there's no tendon damage, which is a big problem. That's what Taylor [Phinney] has been battling so much. Bone can heal. No doctor I've spoken with has said this is career ending. There will be a comeback."


The crash was caused by two unmarked bollards in the middle of the road at 500m to go in a stage that was destined to finish in a small group sprint. Stetina and Sergio Pardilla were the two men who came off worst.


"It's infuriating. The sport is so dangerous already - we shouldn't have obstacles in the middle of a field sprint," was all Stetina would say, leaving the representatives from his and other teams, the UCI and his agent to look into whether the race organisation was negligent. "It could have been so much worse. It's unnecessary in an already inherently dangerous sport when you're going 60kph in glorified underwear."


Phinney, who is nearing a return to the sport after his leg break last May, will be key in Stetina’s recovery as he knows exactly what the climber will go through.


"Taylor sent me a short note right after the accident, but it was one of the most poignant notes I've read. He knows a lot of what I'm going through. Once I'm stateside I plan on ringing him up and getting a few of his thoughts on how to deal with the mental side of things and the rehab, and what has worked for him and what hasn't. I'm sure he'll be a valuable person to gain some knowledge from."


This does ruin his big goal of the year, the Tour of California, where he was set to lead BMC. It also means Tejay van Garderen will lose one of his key domestiques for the Tour de France when the world’s biggest race hits the mountains.


He says the Tour of California route suited him really well and he was desperate to return to try and win the race this year, but there will be other editions and he will come back to try and conquer the race.


"Today I was supposed to be doing a recon ride with my uncle Wayne on Mt. Baldy. The course this year, I finally felt like this was my chance to contend for the top spot because of the high altitude TT, which helps me more, and the Mt Baldy climb that has none of these shallow, drafting sections. It's a true climb with steep gradients that can make the race. Everything was geared toward peaking in that second week in May. Everything was on track, Pais Vasco was just the final tune up before some altitude training.”


"It's disappointing, but there are other Tours of California, they've used Baldy in the past ... I'm not even 30 yet.. They've said this is by no means career-ending, and I plan on being back."




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