Stetina spends his summer break racing off road

Road racer Peter Stetina has been enjoying a break from pro road circuit during the month of July, but he hasn't been sitting on the couch. The Garmin-Transitions rider took to the start line at the US Mountain Bike National Championships in Granby, Colorado, last weekend. When the dust had settled after the cross country race, he occupied the final podium spot.

"It was fun," said Stetina to Cyclingnews of his medal-winning, fifth place ride, "but the only mountain bike races you'll see me at are the Firecracker 50 and the US Mountain Bike Nationals."  Stetina raced his mountain bike in Granby wearing the Tokyo Joes jersey.

"As a road racer, you either have the top form of your life and you're at the Tour de France, or you have a summer break. For my summer break, I've got it written in my contract the wtih the team that I can come out and do a few mountain bike races if it doesn't conflict with my schedule and if it won't tweak anything with my training."

When asked about his Garmin-Transitions team's performance at this year's Tour, Stetina said, "The team has had the worst luck in the Tour this year, but Ryder (Hesjedal) has shown that he's strong; he's another mountain biker. These mountain bikers, we're for real out here."

"Our team is the best team with the best support. You can look for big things from the team in the Vuelta."

Stetina would like to be on the team's roster for the Vuelta a España. "I'm on the long team, and I hope to be selected for the final team," he said. In the interim, he's got the Tour of Poland on his schedule and four races in Italy.

The 22-year-old used to be a mountain biker. "I started on a mountain biking so coming to these two races is like going back to my roots. My first race was the 24 hours of Moab with a junior team. A soccer teammate had convinced me to do it, and the culture was so much fun."

As Stetina got more competitive, he transitioned into road racing, in part because it suited his climbing abilities. "I started mountain bike racing when I was 14 and transitioned to the road at age 16, but I did both disciplines throughout my whole junior career."

Stetina had to abandon the Firecracker 50 on July 4 when his bike broke on the final lap, but he had been mixing it up with the leaders. Both Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Sam Schultz (both Subaru-Trek) took notice of Stetina during the race saying he was "climbing like a maniac".

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.