Elite men: Dufur, Oregon - Dufur, Oregon
Peter Stetina soloed to the win in the men’s Gorge Gravel Grinder on Sunday after breaking away from the competition with 70km remaining. The former WorldTour rider was making his first outing in several months as restrictions in the United States begin to be eased and some events can start to welcome competitors.
Stetina completed the 93-mile gravel race in a time of 4:11:07, beating his nearest competitor Stephen Mull by just over two minutes. Jack Bardi finished third to complete the podium, almost nine minutes down on Stetina’s winning time.
Despite the emphatic result, the race didn’t go entirely to plan for Stetina, with the local riders – made up of experienced gravel and cyclo-cross athletes – putting the former Trek Segafredo riders through his paces in the early stages. It wasn’t until the major climb of the race when Stetina was able to distance the competition.
“Today was a beautiful course with massive views of Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helen's,” Stetina told Cyclingnews after his win.
“The course was deceivingly hard because it was only 2,400m of climbing in 150 kilometers but it was just rolling all day. It was never flat and it was up and down throughout the race. Then even though the gravel was good there was this fine layer that was loose on top, so you were constantly sliding all day.”
“The Pacific northwest scene is really deep and these guys were putting me to the wood early on. So I had to utilize the big climb early on and that meant taking off with about 70km to go, just because I seriously doubted my capacity to drop them on the smaller, punchier climbs in the final,” he said.
Although Stetina gained an advantage over the major climb in the race he had to fight and hold a slender advantage for the next 30 kilometers before Bardi, and eventually Mull, both cracked under the pressure.
“It actually became a time trial between me and the two chasers with a 30-second gap from 70km to go until 40km to go,” Stetina added.
“They eventually cracked, and I was able to solo in for the win but it was hard-fought, it was a beautiful day out there and there were a lot of people at the finish just enjoying their beer and having a good time. It was great to start gravel racing again.”
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