Peter Stetina carried on his incredible form to take the Rift Gravel Race in Iceland on Saturday. The 200km event, widely respected as one of the most spectacular and hardest gravel races in the world, saw Stetina hold off a determined challenge from Ingvar Omarsson by just under thirty seconds with Birkir Ingvason completing the podium.
2019 defending champion Colin Strickland was forced to settle for fourth on the day after having stomach problems in the second half of the race.
“I’m buckled. There were some really short, bumpy and twist hills out there today and it was incredible tough going. There’s a great festival feel to the event though and many a local beer will be drunk tonight,” Stetina told Cyclingnews via phone after his first European gravel victory.
“Colin was the defending champion, having won in 2019 and he was motoring. He blew the race up in the first three hours, and dropped everyone, myself included. Me and then Omarsson came back to him for a good chunk of the day.”
Omarsson is the defending Icelandic national road champion and he finished second in the time trial back in June. He put those skills to the test after a puncture and a slow change almost saw him drop out of contention.
“Then Omarsson had a puncture and we thought he was gone but he made it back. Then Colin had some stomach problems and had to stop. That left me and but it was a block headwind coming in. It was cold and wet but I attacked with about 22km to go. He was so strong though and was just about 20 seconds behind me for the last 45 minutes of the race. It was a one against one time trial and he would not give in. I was really seeing stars at the end. It was epic and extremely difficult.”
After winning the Belgian Waffle Ride earlier this month, Stetina is on a roll but he isn’t resting on his laurels and knows full well that he needs to capitalize on his condition as the gravel racing scene moves into the second half of the season in the coming weeks with several high profile races in the United States.
“It’s true I’ve been blessed with a purple patch of form for the last month. But I learned early in my career that when that happens you take the opportunity with both hands. There’s no use in waiting to nurse it for later in the season and give up a potential result. That said I’m pretty tired after the last month and I’m ready to take my foot off the gas and hopefully rebuild just in time for the LeadBoat.”
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|9||Lars Antonius Joannes Boom||0:50:52|
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