These days, three-time Olympic cyclist Wayne Stetna rides little more than the eight miles to work and back.
"I really believe I could still make the Olympic team if I rode fulltime," he says. "All the guys I measure myself against are winning stages in the Tour de France."While Saturday's Salt Lake Classic criterium was not quite that glamorous, Stetna showed why he's still a force on the national level. The 34-year-old Californian stayed back in the pack for most of the one-hour race and exploded during the last three laps to win by more than 100 yards at Liberty Park.
"He rode a really smart race," said Salt Lake's Barry Makarewicz, who outsprinted Richard Nielsen in a duel for second place. "He didn't do anything the whole way, until he took off. He was totally fresh."
Said Stetna, "If you know exactly where to go your hardest, you can do that."
For Stetna, the moment arrived with four laps to go. "I timed my attack pretty well," he said. He took the lead on the back stretch and, by the time that two laps remained he'd opened a sizable lead on the field. He slowed considerably in those last two laps, but was never threatened on his way to the $750 top prize.
And with that, he was on his way to a Memorial Day race in Moline, Ill.
Paul Wolfe finished fourth Saturday, followed by Nathan Pollard, Matt Ohran, Dave Cropp, Rex Nielson, Steve Johnson and Karl Kruger. Of the top 10 finishers, only Stetna won a one-lap prime along the way, and that was on the third-to-last lap after he'd made his move.
Stetna's jump allowed him to overcome the strategy of local teams, trying to have one or two racers emerge. Makarewicz was Guthrie's designated rider, because, as Steve Johnson said, "Too many of the local guys key on me."
Johnson, a world champion in his division last year, finished ninth. "It's pretty much a team event," he noted. "Sometimes, not being on a team can work to your advantage, because you kind of disappear in the pack. Several teams were trying to work against each other and he (Stetna) just played us all against each other and rode a good, tactical race."
Which is Stetna's only chance anymore, now that he's cut his trianing way back. His last Olympic appearance was in 1980, but he's found that less training has kept him interested in the sport longer. He makes up for a relative lack of conditioning by using precise strategy, which he actually finds more challenging than his former all-out style.
And he held up just fine this weekend, winning a veterans race Friday and coming back strong Saturday. "I just felt really tired the first 30 minutes; I didn't have much acceleration," he said later. "Finally, enough people tired. But I was really hurting at the end. I was glad I didn't have to kick it in."