The prize for his incredible efforts over the 250 miles of weekend off-road racing were a fetching, if slightly baggy, denim waistcoat and the honour of wining the inaugural Leadboat award.
Sarah Sturm won the women’s equivalent, to claim her own denim attire to match Stetina's.
“I won the Leadboat," Stetina told Cyclingnews via a phone call shortly after he had finished third to Alex Howes and Ian Boswell in Steamboat Springs.
“I was fifth in Leadville and third in SBT. I don’t think anyone knows what the Leadboat actually means just yet, it’s just the bad ass award. They’re two super prestigious one-day races that combine for 250 miles, all off road with 21,000 feet of vertical climbing. I was racing against folk who were primed and focused having not done the Leadville 100.”
Stetina, who spent the majority of his career riding in the WorldTour and racing events like the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, admitted that the two off-road races that he competed in this weekend were harder than any two back-to-back days he had endured on the road.
However he came through a shaky start in SBT GRVL before finding his legs and even attacking.
“I didn’t have the best of days on Saturday and I struggled with some fuelling stuff but I fought demons and hung tough. I treated it like a stage race but I’m glad that I mostly do one-day races now. This morning I was definitely suffering in the first few hours of the race when the fresh guys were throwing it down. But I utilized every little trick I learned in the WorldTour to fuel and I got better and better as the race went on,” he added.
“It was way harder than any two consecutive days I’ve done in a Grand Tour and the power files confirm.”
The winning move in SBT GRVL came when Stetina attacked on the final downhill section. Only Boswell and Howes were able to respond, with the trio riding the final 12 miles together.
In a three-way sprint for the win, Howes edged out Boswell with Stetina finishing third.
“I attacked on the final downhill called Cow Creek. I had a gap coming out of it and Ian Boswell and Alex Howes came up to me. They’re two of my closest friends and Alex was a groomsman at my wedding," Stetina explained.
"We quickly collaborated and realized that we would be stoked to be on the podium together. There was no chance that I held a candle to them in the sprint but I’m so happy to take home the inaugural Steamboat title.”
Stetina’s 2021 gravel campaign is far from over with the Leadboat Challenge crown.
He will compete in the Transrockies Gravel Royale next weekend before heading to Rebecca’s Private Idaho. Then comes Stetina’s own event, Stetina’s Paydirt in Carson City.
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