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Peter Stetina's Paydirt gravel race sets women-only prize purse

Peter Stetina
Peter Stetina (Image credit: Peter Stetina)

Registrations open for Peter Stetina’s gravel race ‘Stetina’s Paydirt’ at 8:00 am PDT on Thursday with the event set to allocate its entire prize purse to the women’s field. A host of major names are set to take part, with the race taking place in the Pine Nut mountain range on September 11.

Amity Rockwell, Maude Farrell, Kathy Pruitt, Andrea Dvorak, and Kaysee Armstrong form part of a strong women’s field with more names likely to sign up in the coming weeks. The men’s race takes place on the same day with both fields taking on 4,600ft of vertical climbing over the 65-mile course.  

“With my move to gravel, I started to explore the other side of the valley from Lake Tahoe, where I live part-time and there’s this mountain range called the Pine Nut mountain range. There weren’t even Strava or trail maps for it but we planned a gravel route and in 2020 we had branded it the Stetina’s Paydirt that eluded to mining culture and that western style. COVID shut it down but that gave us a year to settle on it a bit more and now registrations open today,” Stetina told Cyclingnews.

The race embraces much of the culture that has made gravel so popular in North America. As well as an incentive to increase the women’s field by setting a $4,000 prize fund the race will also have additional non-racing competitions in which riders can gain time bonuses. 

“What sets us apart is the western theme, the time bonuses we have, and the women’s challenge,” Stetina said.

 “The latter is really my part to try and foster parity within the sport. During my whole career, more often than not, if there was a women’s race it would be early in the morning and it would be treated as an opening act to the ‘main show’ but I want to try and help grow equality in the sport and I’ve been racking my brain on how to do so. 

“So we’ve decided to make the women the stars of the show. The guys still get a podium and cool prizes, beer, and a great race. But the women, and I have a personal belief that more exposure can lead to more pay and everything else that their hard work deserves. We’ve got Shimano on board and it’s going to be the Shimano Paydirt Challenge with a $4,000 prize purse.

"I hope that men aren’t put off by this. I think that we all have to strive for 50-50 participation, and we can all do our little part on getting there in the future. I hope this doesn't put some guys off. Rather I hope a lot of my male colleagues are inspired to support our female counterparts and just enjoy the course and boatload of beer at the finish. The will still be a podium, some prizes, and a damn good time for the men."

“It’s not just a classic race by time. We also have alternative time bonuses. There a mechanical bull and a tire keg toss. Bonuses are awarded so the podium could come down to those final challenges. It’s totally different.”

Hosting his own event isn’t the only thing on Stetina’s mind right now with centerpiece to his own racing season coming up in just over a week with Unbound Gravel. The race, formerly known as Dirty Kanza, will see the elite gravel riders in the US compete against European WorldTour pros and the likes of Laurens ten Dam, who recently won Gravel Locos ahead of Stetina and 2019 Unbound winner Colin Strickland. 

“Training and Unbound is my full focus right now. That’s where all my chips are. Then I’ve got the Oregon Trail stage race.” Stetina said.

The former Trek Segafredo pro finished in the top ten in the 155-mile Gravel Locos but was taken out of contention with an untimely puncture in the finale but he is relaxed about his form and what’s to come having finished second in Unbound two years ago. 

“I’m content. It was really good to see the other guys are at in terms of their fitness and I was surprised with how good Laurens was. At the same time, we were all there. It was very tactical in the mud and we were all attacking each other one after another.

"He was the strongest and he took off but if I hadn’t had that puncture with about 30km to go then things might have been different. I’m not complacent but I’ve got two weeks to dot the Is and cross the Ts. Then we’ll just see where the WorldTour guys are because they’ve had a spring of racing.” 

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Daniel Benson

 Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.