Olympian Evelyn Stevens Gave Up the Big Paycheck to Compete in Cycling | Evelyn Stevens

Just four years ago US Olympic cyclist Evelyn “Evie” Stevens worked in a New York high rise on Wall Street. After earning a degree at Dartmouth and landing a lucrative job at an investment firm, Stevens found herself longing for a different path. Once her sister had introduced her to the sport of competitive cycling, Evelyn had to decide whether or not to chase her new passion and if so, at what costs.

Evie Stevens, 29, knew she had to embrace cycling 100% and this meant completely walking away from her financial career. But she did not leave this profitable lifestyle behind for nothing. Within two years of beginning the sport, Evelyn placed 15th at the cycling world championships held in Switzerland. Since then, she has racked up multiple time-trial championships and raced in the most prestigious event in women’s cycling, the Giro Donne.

While watching the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Stevens fantasized about attending the games as a spectator. She took it one step further and will be actually be in London this summer, competing for a medal.

4-Mega Inspiring 2012 Olympic Athletes on What Motivates Them | Evelyn Stevens

Women have come a long way since the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 when Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, forbade female participation because it would be “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect.” Come again, Pierre?! Ever since, fearless female athletes have been proving de Coubertin’s sexism irrelevant and just plain wrong. Despite his yammering, women competed in the Olympics for the first time just four years later at the 1900 Paris Games, where they won medals in the first two events open to women, lawn tennis, and golf. Excuse me while I think still think is really freaking awesome 100 years later, because it is.

Though you might know that little bit of Olympics history (I’m sure that’s a Trivial Pursuit question or something), what you may find surprising is that certain Olympic events have remained closed to women until very recently. Women were allowed to compete in weightlifting for the first time in 2000, and the upcoming games in London will be the very first games in which women’s boxing is offered. The introduction of women’s boxing is quite an exciting milestone. It means that for the first time all Olympic sports will include events for women. To celebrate this rather… Olympic achievement and to honor the amazing female athletes who have gotten us there, I present to you four members of Team USA, telling you about themselves and where they find motivation. Keep your eyes out for these women when the games open in July–I have a feeling these are inspiring women you will want to remember. (Cheer them on this summer–they’ve ALL made the Olympic team!)

 

EVELYN STEVENS, CYCLING: “I CRASHED EVERY DAY, AND THEN SOMETHING SWITCHED IN MY HEAD.”

How incredible are they? If you’re craving even more inspiration after watching the vids, check out the project all these women are a part of, Team USA’s Raise Our Flag project. It allows you to buy a stitch the American flag for the 2012 Games (while also providing house, training, and equipment for Team USA athletes- pretty cool!). And whether you choose to donate or not, there are more awesome athlete testimonials. Plus, they just hit 20,000 stitches, so kudos to them!

And one more thing: I’ve got some more Olympics regarding gender equality flying under the radar: Qatar, Brunei, and Saudi Arabia, three Muslim countries that have previously refrained from sending female athletes to the Olympics for cultural and religious reasons, reportedly plan on sending them for the first time this summer. Rock on, ladies.

Ex-Lehman Banker Parlays Bonuses Into Cycling Berth at Olympics | Evelyn Stevens

Evelyn Stevens bought her first racing bicycle while working as a fund manager in 2008. Nervous of New York’s traffic, she left it in her Manhattan apartment and hung bags on its aluminum frame.
Yesterday, she raced at the London Olympics.

It was the latest notch in the cycling career of 29-year- old Stevens, who in 2009 quit her Wall Street job helping to manage a $480 million fund at Gleacher Mezzanine to try and become a professional rider.
The 5-foot-5 (1.7-meter) Stevens said she’s using savings from banking bonuses to “cushion” the blow of lower earnings. She began her career as an investment-banking analyst at Lehman Brothers Inc., leaving in 2007 before the bank collapsed.

“I was able to save a lot of my bonuses,” Stevens said. “I don’t have to survive on a $10,000 or $8,000 purse from cycling. If I hadn’t been in investment banking, I wouldn’t have been able to be at the Olympics.”
She was 24th in yesterday’s Olympic women’s road race, finishing among a group including teammate Shelley Olds that was 27 seconds behind gold-medal winner Marianne Voss of the Netherlands. There were 66 riders at the start.

Kristin Armstrong, the U.S.’s defending time-trial gold medalist, crashed about halfway through the 87-mile race in driving rain and finished about 20 seconds further back just ahead of the other American, Amber Neben.

Stevens said it took her about 10 miles of riding to get accustomed to the thousands of spectators lining the route.

SURREAL EXPERIENCE

“It was surreal, I was kind of staring at everything that was going on,” Stevens said, a rain coat draped around her shoulders at the finish line. “It was literally one of the most incredible experiences of my life.”

Stevens’s other cycling marks include a stage win in the women’s Giro d’Italia, victory at Belgium’s Fleche Wallonne and two U.S. national time-trial titles. In her third year as a professional, she said she is still learning her new trade on a team sponsored by Morgan Hill, California-based Specialized Bicycle Components Inc.

While there’s a “big discrepancy” from what she once earned, Stevens said her quality of life has improved. After leaving behind a 90-hour working week in banking, she lives in Girona, Spain during the European racing season and Boulder, Colorado.

EVERYONE STRESSED

“In New York there’s pressure, and it’s kind of negative, everyone was stressed,” Stevens, dressed in U.S. team tracksuit and lycra three-quarter length pants at the London Olympic Park, said July 27. “I don’t get so much money now but my quality of living has gone up.”

Back in 2008, Stevens, who had played on the Dartmouth College tennis team, said she was nervous about taking her first $1,000 aluminum Cannondale Corp. bike out for a ride in New York traffic for the first time.

“I was very uncertain about how to ride it,” Stevens said. “I was so nervous of traffic. Then finally I started taking it up the West Side Highway and I would ride it all the way up to the 96th street and cut across.”

She said she built up confidence after a class at the Century Road Club Association at 5 a.m. with 50 other women including actors, lawyers and teachers in Central Park. She soon started to win interstate races.

LEHMAN DEAL

Stevens would cycle on a home trainer after work from 9 p.m. until midnight to prepare for the weekend events, Phil Krall, a former colleague at Gleacher, said.

“On Monday mornings at work, I would ask her how she did,” Krall said by telephone. “She would always say ‘Oh, I won.’”

Gleacher, which specializes in buying debt in leveraged buyouts, has since been renamed Arrowhead Mezzanine LLC and relocated to Greenwich, Connecticut, said Krall, who is senior managing director.

Stevens worked on deals including Lehman’s 2008 acquisition of a stake in bicycle component maker Sram International Corp. (SRAM), Krall said. Her next assignment is a nine-day stage race in France in August
“In investment banking when you’ve finished a deal, you get a gift for what you’ve done,” Stevens said. “But there’s nothing in the world that comes close to winning a race, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Duff at the London Olympic Park at aduff4@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at at celser@bloomberg.net

From Wall Street to the Olympics | Evelyn Stevens

Would you give up everything you had in the pursuit of a dream?

Evelyn Stevens gave up her career as an investment banker in 2008 and ended up cycling for the U.S. Olympic team in London just three years later.

When Stevens graduated from Dartmouth College in 2005 she had a safe and lucrative career path in front of her—she would spend two years as an investment-banking analyst at Lehman Brothers and then move on to work for a smaller financial firm.

What she didn’t plan for was the economic crash of 2008. Lehman Brothers ceased to exist and the country toppled into recession.

“It was the summer of 2008, it was quite stressful,” Stevens tells The Daily Ticker in the accompanying interview. “You didn’t know if you were going to have a job, you were watching all your colleagues lose their jobs. You could just feel that the energy was, I would say, misplaced.”

Stevens bought a bike and started cycling on the weekends as a release for her work-related stress and anxiety. Although she had never biked before, she found that she had a talent and passion for it. She began entering and winning races.

When tested by her coach, Matt Koschara, it was discovered that her leg power was nearly equivalent to that of an elite professional. This is not entirely rare—cyclists often don’t realize their physiological potential until later in life because indicators tend to be internal things like leg and lungpower, explains Koschara.
After a year of biking, Stevens came to a crossroads. She could continue riding competitively on the weekends or she could devote herself full-time to professional cycling. The recession made her realize that the financial world was volatile and that there no longer was a “safe path.” With that in mind, she decided to follow her dreams and become a pro-biker.

“I went to my bosses and I think they were ready for me to ask for a business school recommendation but instead I said, ‘no actually I think I’m just going to go and bike,’” she explains.
Stevens packed up all of her belongings and quit her job.

“I gave away everything, I put it all on Craigslist…I was sitting there with one bike, one bag, and I just startedcrying. I was like ‘Oh my goodness, what have I done?’”

Stevens went on to win the U.S. National Time Trial Championships in 2010 and 2011. She competed in the 2012 summer Olympics, and though she only ranked 24th she still has gold medal dreams.

“I did London, I tasted it, I had the experience,” she says. “I want to win Rio. I’m going for the gold in Rio!”

Stevens hasn’t completely abandoned her investment banking background. She claims that the long hours on Wall Street have helped her keep a strong work ethic and commitment level while biking. She also plans on getting an MBA so that she can blend her Wall Street background with her passion for women’s cycling.

Velo North American Women and International Women’s Climber of the Year | Evelyn Steven

North American Woman, International Women’s Climber of the Year: Evelyn Stevens
Evelyn Stevens used to be known as the cyclist who dropped a career in investment banking to focus on professional cycling. Now, she should be known as the cyclist who dropped Marianne Vos — the queen of cycling and one of the most dominant and skilled cyclists, male or female, in history — on her way to her first World Cup victory at Flèche Wallonne Femmes. She outfoxed Vos up the storied Mur de Huy climb to claim the first win by an American woman in the race.

“This is my most exciting win ever, easily. I never thought I would be in Flèche Wallonne, let alone win it someday,” Stevens said.

By now, her story is well known. In 2008, her job with the bankrupt Lehman Brothers could pay no better than cycling, and Stevens made the jump. She started racing with a local club in New York City, and in 2009 Stevens won both the Cascade Cycling Classic and the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic while guest riding for domestic teams. A pair of national TT titles followed.

This year, however, was different. A move to Boulder, Colorado, where she trained with housemate Taylor Phinney and his riding mates, helped improve both her fitness and her handling skills. In February, riding for the U.S. national team, Stevens, 29, won the five-stage Tour of New Zealand; in April she won Flèche and the four-stage Gracia-Orlova in Italy; in May, she won the inaugural Exergy Tour in Idaho.

But it was her performances at the Giro Donne and the world championships that turned heads. In stage 3 of the women’s Giro, Stevens soloed home for a 12-second victory, snatching the pink jersey from Vos in the process. Though Vos would grab it back — she would take five of the nine stages, along with the points competition jersey — the Massachusetts native claimed third overall.

Stevens saved some of her best for last. In August she won two stages and the overall at La Route de France, and in September, just one week before the world championships in Valkenburg, she finished second overall, to Vos, at the oddly-named Brainwash Ladies Tour of Holland.

In Valkenburg, Stevens again showed her class. The newly reinstated team time trial saw her Specialized-lululemon storm to a gold medal on the opening day of competition. And to cap off her exceptional season, the always-smiling Stevens claimed a silver medal in the individual time trial, just like her housemate, Phinney. If it hadn’t been for the mastery of Germany’s Judith Arndt, who crested the top of the Cauberg 33 seconds faster in her farewell victory, Stevens would have had a second gold medal.

Still, a silver medal ain’t too shabby for a third-year pro. — CHRIS CASE

Evelyn Stevens wins Merco Cycling Classic | Evelyn Stevens

Congratulations to Evelyn Stevens for kicking off the season with an overall victory at the Merco Cycling Classic in Merced, California. She relied on the consistent support of her Specialized-lululemon teammates to secure the top step on the podium at the conclusion of the four-day event on Sunday.

Specialized-lululemon sent a small but strong team that also included Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Ally Stacher and Tayler Wiles.

At the opening stage’s MID Road Race, Stevens and Wiles broke away from the field and made it to the finish line a mere 15 seconds ahead of a bunch sprint. Wiles secured the stage win and the overall race lead and Stevens placed second.

Stevens put forth a winning performance during the stage two Merced Boosters Time Trial. She won the 19.3 kms race in 26:21 minutes, proving every bit why she is one of the top time trialists in the country. Her performance moved her up into the overall race lead.

Specialized-lululemon continued to dominate the race with its sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg winning the stage three McDonald’s Downtown Grand Prix. Teutenberg is well-known for winning bunch sprints but this time she won the race from a small breakaway that also included her teammate Stacher. Stevens finished safely toward the front of the field and maintained her lead in the overall classification heading into the finale.

Specialized-lululemon celebrated Stevens’s overall victory at the conclusion of the stage four Hilltop Ranch Road Race. Wiles finished the stage race in third place overall behind runner-up Alison Powers (Now and Novartis for MS). In addition to their overall classification performances, Stevens placed second in the points competition and Wiles won the Under 26 competition.

Happy to be back racing | Evelyn Stevens

This was the first year I have ever put a schedule together. Channeling my skills as a former banker, I made a beautiful Microsoft Excel file with dates, locations, plans, and details, and I even added in some fancy hot key formulas.

I shared my masterpiece with family and friends and I was ready to tackle my 2013 season with precision and detail. All was going well until I literally landed on my face in Italy during a race [Classica Citta di Padova]. My beautiful Excel file went flying out the window as quickly as a few of my teeth had broken off, and I quickly learned that cycling, like life, cannot always be planned.

To embrace a classic cliché, this past month I was given a few lemons — but thanks to my team and amazing support network I have learned how to turn them into sweet and yummy lemonade.

One of the biggest changes in my life since I became a cyclist was addressing the amount of help I needed. In the beginning, I found myself resisting, but I quickly learned if there was any way I was going to succeed in this sport, I needed help. That help has come in all forms: a ride from the airport, a place to stay, being taught how to corner and descend, someone to answer my plethora of questions, someone who helps you laugh after that bad day on the bike, and in so many more ways.

Crashing hard last month multiplied the amount of help I needed; sometimes you don’t realize how lucky and loved you are until something bad happens. I am grateful for everyone who has helped me this past month — it made my recovery as smooth as possible. I now feel rejuvenated and ready to be back on the bike and I have even started to think that my scars and broken teeth are cool.

Feeling rested, happy, and with a bigger smile than before (albeit a bit different looking), I ventured off to the Czech Republic on Tuesday to meet my Specialized-lululemon teammates for the start the Gracia Orlova stage race. My teammates have been amazing this spring; we had a bad string of crashes with myself, Trixi Worrack and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg all hitting the tarmac hard. The rest of the team has been forced to pile quite a lot on their plates. They have been amazing to watch from afar and I am thrilled and honored to be lining up next to them again!

Thursday was the first road stage and I would be lying to say I wasn’t nervous to start racing again. But after being sidelined for a month my hunger and love for bike racing has grown even stronger. When I was struggling in the bunch, I just tried to flood my mind with happy thoughts. I thought about drinking a coffee with my mom and dad in Cape Cod or the beautiful Tuscan view I had last week while staying with Connie and Davis Phinney.

I am lucky to have teammates that are patient and supportive and quick to let me jump on their wheels and help me through the peloton. This spring was not what my Excel file had planned, but I feel lucky to be back on my bike, back to racing and back to smiling, thanks to so much help and support.

Evelyn Stevens went on to win the first stage and place second overall at the Gracia-Orlova stage race held in the Czech Republic from April 24 to 28. Next, Stevens won the Cafe Velo Tri Lakes Time Trial held on May 4 in Colorado.

Evelyn Stevens wins 2013 Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial | Evelyn Stevens

Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) won the Amgen Tour of California’s women’s time trial in San Jose on Friday. Stevens, the former U.S. national champion, finished the 31-kilometer test in 55:49.

Alison Powers (NOW-Novartis for MS) was second, at 56 seconds unofficially. Kristin McGrath (Exergy Twenty16) was third, at 1:24.

“It was really flipping hard,” said Stevens. “It was uphill, it was downhill, it was flat. And then you have that climb.”

Former world champion Amber Neben (Pasta Zara) crashed hard 15km into the race after overcooking a tight, right-hand corner on the course’s technical descent. Neben impacted the road-cut wall with her left side and crash onto her right hip. She sat on the road at the inside of the next corner, with SRAM neutral service staff attending to her, as Stevens, Powers, and Jade Wilcoxson (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) blazed past.

Race staff confirmed on Friday night that Neben was in an area hospital for observation, but did not expand on the nature of her injuries.

Powers and Stevens went back and forth over the course’s flat lead-in to the Metcalf Road climb. A number of times, Stevens passed Powers and other riders closely, but officials did not penalize her. Stevens would lead for a kilometer. Powers would draw even and lead for nearly the same distance. The race was on for the win; if Powers could stay with Stevens, her 30-second woman, on the flats, she would have a 30-second buffer on the climb.

The National Racing Calendar leader did so, but it wasn’t enough. Stevens stomped her way up the climb, distancing Powers and riding into the race win.

“I knew that I could win it. You have to be in the race,” said Stevens. “And Powers passed me. She passed me, so we stayed within contention. So once I got to the climb, I was like, ‘Oh man. I’ve got to open a can of whoop-ass.’”

SHE’S NOT YOUR AVERAGE OLYMPIAN: EVELYN STEVENS’ AMAZING RIDE | Evelyn Stevens

When did you start biking?

In February of 2008, I went to Sid’s Bikes and bought my first road bike. They were nice and helpful. I wheeled it back to my apartment. Then it sat in the corner for a while.

Were you too busy to ride?

Actually, I was intimidated to ride on the streets. Eventually, I started walking my bike to the Hudson River Greenway, and then I finally got comfortable there, and I started going to Central Park. After that, I figured out how to ride over the George Washington Bridge, and I signed up for a women’s racing clinic put on by the Century Road Club Association.

So that’s how you went from a career in finance to the Olympics and pro cycling?

There was a lot more to it, but that was the start. I like to tell people that the biggest difference between banking and biking is that I would never have road rash if I stayed in finance.

Now that you’re a professional, travelling the world training and competing, do you make it back to New York City often?

October is our month off. I spend it in the city, visiting friends, doing a few fundraisers, and enjoying time away from my 80 racing days and all the training. This spring, I’m trying to figure out a way back to New York for the launch of Citi Bike. That’s going to be so great.

What’s your favorite place to bike in New York City?

It’s definitely Central Park. At 8pm on a weekday, it’s not as hectic, but there are still lots of people out riding. It’s beautiful and stimulating, and I’ve never been much of a morning person.

How about outside of the City?

I love to go over the George Washington Bridge to Nyack, and if you come back through Piermont this particular way, you can go off-roading. It’s a little dirt-path adventure in the shadow of New York. You know, riding a bike really opens up the city. You meet new people, you see new things, and there’s all this fun that’s more accessible.

What was it like to ride in the Olympics?

The Olympics are still something I’m getting my head around. In 2008, I was working at a desk watching the Olympics on TV, so to go and represent my country four years later was totally surreal. To be surrounded by the world’s best. The Olympics are more than just competition: They’re a celebration of sport. It was one of the most special things I’ve ever experienced. That’s one of the reasons I want to go back and win in 2016.

Do you have any tips for new cyclists?

Always wear a helmet, act like a car, follow the rules of the road, and don’t ride with headphones. New York City is a place we share, so we have to be aware and mindful.

On May 29thEvelyn Stevens and the Specialized – lululemon team joined more than 70 female riders and New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan to celebrate the launch of the Citi Bike Share Program. The group of women rode through Central Park before finishing the day in Chelsea for an after-party.

Photo by lululemon

Evelyn Stevens wins 2013 Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial | Evelyn Stevens

Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) won the Amgen Tour of California’s women’s time trial in San Jose on Friday. Stevens, the former U.S. national champion, finished the 31-kilometer test in 55:49.

Alison Powers (NOW-Novartis for MS) was second, at 56 seconds unofficially. Kristin McGrath (Exergy Twenty16) was third, at 1:24.

“It was really flipping hard,” said Stevens. “It was uphill, it was downhill, it was flat. And then you have that climb.”

Former world champion Amber Neben (Pasta Zara) crashed hard 15km into the race after overcooking a tight, right-hand corner on the course’s technical descent. Neben impacted the road-cut wall with her left side and crash onto her right hip. She sat on the road at the inside of the next corner, with SRAM neutral service staff attending to her, as Stevens, Powers, and Jade Wilcoxson (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) blazed past.

Race staff confirmed on Friday night that Neben was in an area hospital for observation, but did not expand on the nature of her injuries.

Powers and Stevens went back and forth over the course’s flat lead-in to the Metcalf Road climb. A number of times, Stevens passed Powers and other riders closely, but officials did not penalize her. Stevens would lead for a kilometer. Powers would draw even and lead for nearly the same distance. The race was on for the win; if Powers could stay with Stevens, her 30-second woman, on the flats, she would have a 30-second buffer on the climb.

The National Racing Calendar leader did so, but it wasn’t enough. Stevens stomped her way up the climb, distancing Powers and riding into the race win.

“I knew that I could win it. You have to be in the race,” said Stevens. “And Powers passed me. She passed me, so we stayed within contention. So once I got to the climb, I was like, ‘Oh man. I’ve got to open a can of whoop-ass.’”

Feature image by  Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com