Former U.S. national road champion Dale Stetina, father of Garmin-Sharp’s Peter Stetina and brother of Shimano USA vice president Wayne Stetina, was in critical condition Saturday night after a cycling accident required him to be emergency airlifted to a Boulder, Colorado, hospital.
According to multiple sources — including Boulder newspaper Daily Camera, local Colorado cycling website 303Cycling, and veteran American racer Steve Tilford — Stetina, 57, sustained life-threatening injuries when he fell from his bike while trying to avoid colliding with a car in Lefthand Canyon, a well-traveled road for riding among the Boulder cycling community.
According to the Daily Camera report, troopers who responded to the scene said that a 1999 Jeep SUV was headed westbound on Lefthand Canyon when the driver, identified as an adult male, pulled across the centerline and onto a shoulder on the opposite side of the road.
The driver then attempted to pull back into the westbound lane just as a group of cyclists headed eastbound on the roadway came around a slight bend. All of the cyclists were able to avoid the vehicle, but one rider lost control in the process of maneuvering, causing him to fall from his bike, a Colorado State Patrol spokesperson told Daily Camera.
Though Stetina was wearing a helmet, Tilford posted to his website Saturday night that he’d received an email from a friend of Stetina’s, describing his injuries as “very serious.”
“Dale did not hit the car, but hit the pavement, landing face first, suffering significant facial and ocular damage, and loss of responsiveness,” the email message read. “EMTs were on the scene rapidly, he received good care. He was flown to Boulder Community Hospital in a Flight for Life helicopter. He is there now in ICU. The CatScan diagnosis revealed brain stem injuries. The neurosurgeon describes the injuries as very serious. Dale is in tough shape. The future of Dale’s recovery is not known at this time, the doctors have offered no predictions. His vital signs are stable given the trauma he encountered. We are all hopeful.”
Along with his brother Wayne, Dale Stetina was a prolific winner during a racing career that lasted from the late 1960s through 1983. He was a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team, and twice won the biggest stage race in the U.S, the Red Zinger Classic, in 1979, and the renamed Coors Classic, in 1983.
Peter Stetina, 26, has been part of the Colorado-based Slipstream Sports program for the entirety of his career, beginning in 2003. His indiviudal highlights include a pair of under-23 national time trial titles, in 2008 and 2009; in 2012 he played a pivotal role in helping Garmin teammate Ryder Hesjedal secure his Giro d’Italia victory. Earlier this month it was announced that Stetina would be joining BMC Racing in 2014.
In a 2008 VeloNews story on the Stetina family legacy, Dale Stetina spoke about his son’s decision to follow in his footsteps and pursue a career in professional cycling.
“I told Peter, you don’t necessarily win the ones you expect,” he said. “When you really prepare well, what ends up happening is that luck will still play a big part. For example, when I last won the Coors Classic, I wasn’t nearly the best rider — Steve Bauer was riding better than I was. Other years when I was the best racer I didn’t win. All you can do is put yourself in the position where you have good chance to win, and if you prepare well enough for enough years, a few of them will fall into your lap.”