Boulder native Peter Stetina (Garmin-Transitions) has expressed disappointed that his home town did not secure a stage of the Quiznos Pro Challenge, after the new race’s route was announced yesterday. Stetina is keeping his fingers crossed that the peloton might pass through the cycling mecca en route to the closing city of Denver, during the seven stage race scheduled for August 22-28 in Colorado, USA.
“I think the organisers chose a very good selection of cities and I was honestly just excited for anything because there is no bad news with this announcement for me,” Stetina told Cyclingnews. “I’m naturally disappointed not to see Boulder in the running because of its history with the Coors Classic but these other cities must have made very appealing offers.
“You can see based on the cities that were chosen that it is going to be a very good course with no long transfers,” he added. “As much excitement as there is, it would have been ten times higher if there was a stage coming to Boulder. But they haven’t announced the route so maybe it will pass through Boulder on the last day.”
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong officially announced the inaugural Quiznos Pro Challenge at a press conference earlier this year. The event loosely mimics the former Coors Classic, held from 1979-1988 and considered one of the toughest events in the world in its day. Stetina’s mother, Anne, was the Coors Classic’s logistics director and his father, Dale, won the overall title twice in 1979 and 1983.
“It will be a very big race and a goal for Garmin-Transitions, being Colorado’s ProTour team,” Stetina said. “My Dad won the overall twice and there are only a handful of guys who did that. I have a lot of family history there too. My Mom worked on the board of the Coors Classic and, literally, that race was the reason that my parents met. If it wasn’t for the Coors Classic I probably would not be here.
“I feel more excitement than pressure to race though,” he added. “I feel like I’m putting pressure on the team to take me because this race is so important to me. It is positive energy and not fear of failing. My parents will follow the race closely and come to all the stages.”
The race will start at a lower elevation for the opening prologue in Colorado Springs and move directly into the first mountaintop finish in Crested Butte on stage one. The peloton will touch some of the Rocky Mountains' popular ski resorts in Aspen, Vail, Steamboat and Breckenridge before event concludes in Denver.
“It’s all very high elevation racing because the race is held in the high mountains and not in the front range of Colorado,” Stetina said. “It will be very good for local riders like me and Tom Danielson. I think the course can only benefit high altitude climbers. The cities selected have ski resorts that are made to handle massive tourist traffic in the winter with hotels and in the summer they won’t be as busy.
“I love Crested Butte because I go on mountain bike trips there all the time,” he added. “The scenery in the summer is amazing with fields of high alpine wild flowers, there is a very big bike culture and it is home of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. They are very supportive of cycling and there is a climb that goes up to the ski resort.”
Stetina, a former Under 23 USA Cycling Time Trial Champion, is pleased with the race organiser’s decision to include the notorious Vail Pass time trial for stage four. The course was used during the Coors Classic, won by riders esteemed as Greg Lemond, Bernard Hinault and Andy Hampsten. Ben Day (Fly V Australia) currently holds the course record at 25:48 set during the Teva Mountain Games in 2008.
“I’ve done that Vail time trial many times because they have used that course at the Teva Mountain Games every year,” Stetina said. “It’s a hard course and it’s always a big debate whether to use a time trial bike or a road bike because the first half of the course is flat and then you kick up an old frontage road which is the Vail Pass. It’s a hill climb time trial.”
The Quiznos Pro Challenge will be sanctioned under the International Cycling Union (UCI) at a 2.1 level event and is expected to attract the top mountain climbers across the nation and perhaps the world.
“I think for every climber this race is a dream come true,” Stetina said. “It is high altitude climbing and most of the stages will be above 7,000 feet with a mountain time trial. There are only mountains on the way to some of these cities so every climber is going to be licking their chops.”