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 women’s Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic | Evelyn Stevens

PHILADELPHIA (VN) — Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-Lululemon) likes an uphill finish. After capturing Belgium’s ultimate slow-motion sprint atop the Mur de Huy to win the 2012 Fleche Wallone, the American conquered U.S. cycling’s iconic Manayunk Wall to win the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic.

Atop the famed Manayunk Wall, Stevens outkicked Canadian Joelle Numainville (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) and German Claudia Häusler (Tibco-To the Top) for the win.

“It feels great. I’ve had a pretty rough spring,” said Stevens. “It’s been up and down.”

Stevens suffered a serious crash at the Classica Citta di Padova in Italy this spring, landing on her face, breaking teeth, and dealing a serious blow to her season’s goals. She returned to win the women’s time trial at the Amgen Tour of California, but suffered an unfortunate flat at nationals the next weekend. With her Philly win, luck seems to be back on Stevens’ side. So was the wisdom of a teammate laid up with a crash.

“I’ve always raced here with Ina Yoko Teutenberg, and she had a bad crash this year. But she sent me an email giving me tips on how to win it. She told me ‘I know you can win it if you do it right.’ To have that sort of confidence made me race a little harder for her, knowing that it’s always fun to race for her and have her win.”

Teutenberg was a three-time winner of the Liberty Classic, which with the Philadelphia International Championship used much of the same course as the Philly Cycling Classic, but finished on the flats of the Ben Franklin Parkway. With the new race finishing atop the Wall, the time had come for sprinter Teutenberg to pass the torch.

Stevens relied on flawless late-race support from Carmen Small, who ushered her to the foot of the Wall, and then from Tayler Wiles, who gave a full-gas effort until Stevens took the reins, claiming another hilltop win for her growing palmares.

Photo by VeloNews.com

From Wall Street to the road: Cyclist’s unusual journey | Evelyn Stevens

BOULDER, Colo. – “This is my office now, kind of incredible right?” said Evelyn Stevens, while riding her bicycle on the Colorado road.

What’s incredible is that the 30-year-old is even on a bike. Just five years ago she worked on Wall Street and knew nothing about cycling.

“I just wanted to feel freer,” she said. “I used to always sit in conference rooms and look out the window and think I wish I could just fly away.”

On a whim, Stevens’ sister entered her into a bike race, and she just kept on rolling — quitting her job and trading “the street” for the open road.

She said she had no idea how good of a cyclist she could be until she took that leap.

“I have to say at times it still kind of surprises me,” she said.

In 2012, just three years after leaving her office cubicle and turning pro, she took on one of the reigning queens of cycling: Marianne Vos of Holland.

At the top of a famous hill in Belgium called the Mur De Huy, she won Fleche Wallone, one of the sport’s most prestigious races.

Evelyn Stevens of USA and Team Specialized Lululemon celebrates winning La Fleche Wallonne Femmes 2012 Cycle Race from Huy to Huy on April 18, 2012 in Huy, Belgium.

She was the first American woman to do so.

Her sheet from last year reads “first place, first place, first place.”

“I said I like to win,” Stevens said, laughing.

Her biggest weapon is her ability to climb, and climb fast. In the canyons near Boulder, Colo., where she trains, we saw just how good Stevens is.

The one big difference between her work in finance and cycling, she said, “is you can’t physically crash when you worked in finance, but you can physically crash when you work in cycling.”

Less than two months ago, she did crash — on her face going 35 miles per hour.

Still, she loved cycling even more.

“So that’s when I realized that I love to ride my bicycle,” she said. “When what you love is taken away, it makes you realize ‘oh, I really want that and I really love it.’”

Her focus now is making the Olympic team in 2016 and winning gold, all the while showing what’s possible when you ride outside your comfort zone.

 

Weekend Success in Italy and USA | Evelyn Stevens

Continuing her successful comeback, Evelyn Stevens finished 3-stage Giro della Trentino in Italy on Sunday with another overall race win. Stevens won the second stage of the race and the Specialized-lululemon team was able to defend on the final day to protect the race lead.

Stevens, who was out for half of the spring racing due to a nasty crash, has gone from strength to strength in recent weeks, also winning the Philadelphia Classic.

“I’m pretty excited with the way things are going,” she said. “It’s frustrating trying to come back from injury making sure you time things correctly and don’t get too impatient. I’m lucky to have such supportive teammates who trust me and work so hard every day. They were fantastic again here.”

Meanwhile across the pond Evie’s other teammates fought hard at Nature Valley in Minneapolis, USA, in an attempt to move Carmen Small up from third place in the general classification. On the final stage at the infamous Stillwater criterium, Ally Stacher and Tayler Wiles forced the break of the day with Wiles ending up third in the stage and winner of the Young Riders jersey, Ally was awarded “most aggressive rider” and Small finished third in the overall classification.

“It was a great week of racing,” said Team Director Kristy Scrymgeour. “The girls fought hard every stage to shake up the general classification, but there was some great riding by the Optum and Tibco team’s the whole week. Our girls rode outside themselves and I’m so happy with the way they race together. We also had two guest riders, Olivia Dillon and Joy McCullough, who were exceptional this week.”

Evelyn Stevens Top 5 Overall at the 2013 Giro Rosa | Evelyn Stevens

Evelyn Stevens finishes fifth overall in the 2013 Giro Rosa.

The Giro Rosa, formerly known as the Giro Donne, is one of the toughest and most prestigious races in women’s cycling.  From June 30 to July 7, the best female cyclists in the world visited seven regions in Italy over eight days.

Evelyn performed well throughout the race—finishing second in stage four, fifth in stage six, and second in stage eight.

The enigmatic Evelyn Stevens looks to 2014 and beyond | Evelyn Stevens

One gets the feeling that Evelyn Stevens is probably very good at whatever Evelyn Stevens does. It’s well known she came to racing through business, and took to racing quickly. She recently moved to San Francisco from Boulder, so that, among other things, when she does step away from the sport she’ll have more opportunities.

Stevens doesn’t plan on putting down the bike “for a while, but I like to plan ahead when I do things,” she said in a recent interview. “I realized by having a career before cycling you might need to plan one [after].”

But for now, the 30-year-old is all in on the bike. She hopes to begin her calendar with the early season California races, and then swing into the World Cups in Europe. This offseason, she’s focused more on strength training and will tinker with her program a bit.

“I think for cycling, it’s always important to keep challenging yourself. Try to keep adapting so you’re not just doing the same thing over and over again — so just try to constantly improve,” she said.

Stevens comes to training this season with a fresh perspective on the bicycle; after the UCI Road World Championships in Florence, Italy, she traveled to Zambia to participate in a World Bicycle Relief program.

“Ten days, and you get to see first-hand how, what World Bicycle Relief is doing. And it was truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I think for me the bike had shaped my life, and given me so much, and to see really, truly the power of the bicycle in another country. I met this one girl who had to walk 10km to and from school,” Stevens said. “It blew my mind. And she got one of the bicycles. And of course you’re going to be able to focus, you’re going to be able to learn more, if you’re not walking for 2.5 hours on dirt roads.”

The trip and the WBR’s efforts make Stevens appreciate what she’s got — and the fact she can ride a bike for a living — even more.

“Sometimes it’s easy when you’re training, ‘oh, I’ve got to go ride five hours.’ You think that way, but to realize ‘wow, what a privilege it is.’ I think anytime you can do sport for fun it just shows you have a much easier life … gosh, I learned so much from the trip,” she said.

Stevens looks toward this season after a 2012-2013 campaign that, while it had its high moments, took its toll, too. She had a nasty crash in March at the Classica Citta di Padova, breaking teeth and scraping her face. The memory of that isn’t gone.

“It’s still there for sure. I still see the scars on my face, so it’s definitely still fresh,” she said. “But I think that’s just part of cycling. I think every cyclist has some injury, some story. And it makes you aware. It also makes you appreciate the chance to ride and race the bike, and not take things you have for granted. I think the more time I spend in this sport I think the more I realize that when you have good races and when you have a good season you really appreciate it.”

Last season, she won the Parx Philly Classic, the Giro della Trentino, and the time trial at the Amgen Tour of California. She also won a world title with her Specialized-lululemon teammates in the team time trial. She finished fourth and fifth at worlds in the individual time trial and road race, respectively. For the upcoming season, she’s looking toward the big races yet again, though it’s perhaps a bit early to nail down the big goals.

“So hard to talk about big goals when it’s December,” she said. “I think the big thing I learned last year was you can’t — you can have all these goals and plans. Sometimes things just happen and they don’t work out that way.

“But you know. Obviously, the World Cups are really important, and the one-days like Flèche and Flanders … the Giro. Never won it. That’s a big target for me. World championships are still a big target for me,” Stevens said. “Marianne Vos, I think the reason why she’s great, the reason why she’s the best, is because she can deliver on all the big races.”

There’s still plenty of time, however, for Stevens to deliver on the biggest days. She plans on racing through the 2016 Olympics.

“The Olympics are a big target of mine. I experienced 2012, and it kind of makes you hungry to go back and be successful next time around,” she said.

Stevens TT win leads three-medal day for U.S. at Pan Am Road Championships | Evelyn Stevens

Puebla, Mexico (May 8, 2014) — Evelyn Stevens (San Francisco, Calif./Team Specialized lululemon) rode to victory in the individual time trial on Thursday during the opening day of the 2014 Pan American Continental Road Championships in Puebla, Mexico.
By virtue of her victory, Stevens earned herself an automatic qualification for the individual time trial at the 2014 UCI Road World Championships to be held Sept. 21-28 in Ponferrada, Spain. Her victory also provides the U.S. an additional spot in the elite women’s time trial at the world championships. The American squad can now send three starters to Spain for the women’s individual time trial in September.

“Winning today was great,” said Stevens. “(Coach) Jack (Seehafer) and the rest of the USA Cycling staff made the trip so smooth and all I had to do was ride fast. The course was nice and it is a big bonus to win a spot for the worlds’ individual time trial.”

Stevens was a silver medalist in the individual time trial at the 2012 world championships and finished fourth last year. She also rode on the gold-medal winning team time trial squad of Specialized-lululemon in 2013. Stevens completed Thursday’s 19.8-kilometer time trial in 26:27.635, over 12 seconds faster than runner-up Serika Guluma Ortiz of Colombia.

Two Podiums at the USA Cycling National Championships | Evelyn Stevens

Evelyn Stevens capped off a successful 2014 USA Cycling National Championships with podium finishes in the Time Trial and Road Race.

Evelyn completed the 19-mile Time Trial course in 43:26:02 minutes, earning her third place. In Evelyn’s words, “All of us want to win, but I gave the best I could today and I got beat, so I’ll take third but it motivates you to get better that’s for sure.” Two days later, Evelyn stood on the Road Race podium for the first time in her career, after crossing the finish line third behind Alison Powers (United Health Care) and Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans).

Evelyn Stevens repeats as Philly Cycling Classic Champion | Evelyn Stevens

Two years of the newly-designed course in the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic, two Evelyn Stevens victories. The 31 year old Stevens, who bikes for Specialized-Lululemon took home the 2014 race, edging out Twenty 16 & Co.’s Lex Albrecht in the final 25 meters. Lauren Hall from Optum finished third.

Stevens knew she had a target on her back, but overcame the added pressure of being the reigning champ to perservere through another 60 mile race and prevail at the end.

“This is such a special race,” Stevens said. “To win last year was special, but it is always hard to follow up when you are the one that is the favorite. It is nice. It takes a little weight off your shoulders.”

Steven’s Specialized-Lululemon teammates: Carmen Small, Tayler Wiles, Karol-Ann Canuel and Ally Stacher were key in helping her conserve energy for the final push.

“The team, if you watched the race, they laid it all on the line for me,” Stevens said. “When Carman (Small) went, and I went off of her, I knew I had to completely empty my tank. This year I thought I lost the podium in the last 25 meters. I was not going to look back or give up until I was over that line.”

Stevens is now the only winner of the redesigned Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic, which rearranged it’s route so that the finish line is atop the vaunted Manayunk Wall.

Allison Powers had a minute-plus lead most of the race, pacing the pack. She wore the Stars and Stripes jersey for her United Health Care squad as the top finisher at last weekend’s U.S. Cycling Championships. She finished 29 seconds better than the second place finisher in Chatanooga last Saturday. This year, she couldn’t keep up her tepid pace for all six laps, and ended up finishing in 47th.

Instead of hanging back and conserving energy, Powers decided to try and build a lead big enough that she couldn’t be caught. She had the other riders thinking that as well.

“Four laps by yourself on this course would be pretty (tough),” Stevens said of Powers. “Part of me was like ‘gosh maybe she could do it because she is so good right now.’”

Interestingly enough, the plan going into the race for Specialized-Lululemon was not to have Stevens to win, but one of her teammates that would get the final push. Instead, the team made a change on the fly that led to the repeat performance.

“Karol-Ann is a great climber,” Stevens said. “She was actually supposed to be the one saved. I was going to go early and she was going to fall off for me. It changed it up. Taylor (Wiles) and I got stuck behind a crash second to last lap and Taylor any Ally (Stacher) dug in deep to get me back on.”

Sunday’s victory was Stevens’ first road win since June 15th, 2013 when she won a stage of the Giro Trentino. The Philly Cycling Classic is the only U.S. Cycling event that gives equal prize money to the men and women, with a cash prize pool of $31,000. For her burst in the first five laps, Powers locked up the Queen of the Mountain and spring prizes for being the fastest on two designated areas of the course, an uphill stretch at Lemon Hill for the QOTM and a flat stretch on Kelly Drive for the sprint. A $1,000 prize was also given out to the top finisher under the age of 25, going to Kristabel Doebel-Hickock.

Stevens resides in Boulder, Co., and graduated from Dartmouth where she played tennis. She worked in investment banking in New York City until 2009, when she quit her job on Wall Street to cycle full time. After her 19th career win on Sunday, it would seem obvious the decision to ditch the business casual attire for a cycling jersey has paid off.