The daily grind comes in all sorts of ways from plugging away at a desk job to pushing on the pedals day in and day out - Evelyn Stevens has had success at both.
Stevens announced that she will retire from professional bike racing at the end of the 2016 season in an exclusive interview with The Wall Street Journal, and get back to the 'working world'. The American has been an inspiration to many after taking a break from a career in finance in 2009 to focus on cycling. But she says she is ending her athletic stint on a high note after representing Team USA at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she placed 12th in the road race and 10th in the individual time trial.
"It's been awesome," Stevens told The Wall Street Journal. "Thinking back to that cubicle in Lehman Brothers … I got to travel the world. I raced with some of the best women out there, got to do the Olympic time trial, the road race twice, won some races, lost some races, crashed terribly … it's been more than I ever could have expected. Really, I'm ready for the next challenge. Eventually you have to end being a professional cyclist. You can't do it forever. So I feel like I'm going to end it on a high note, while I'm still good, still on top of my game."
Stevens has had a successful career. This year alone, she set the new benchmark for the women's UCI Hour Record, and was eighth at Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria (UCI 1.2). She proved her world-class rank, yet again, with a second place at La Fleche Wallonne (a race she won in 2012), third overall at the Tour of California and fourth at the Philadelphia Cycling Classic (a race she's won twice). All three are events on the Women's WorldTour.
In the second half of this year, she helped her Boels-Dolmans teammate and compatriot Megan Guarnier win the overall title at the Giro Rosa, while she herself won three stages and spent time in the leader's jersey.
All of that was great preparation for her second outing at the Olympic Games in Rio, after competing for the US in 2012 London. It was her major target this year to be at the Olympic Games again. Her other major career results include overall titles at Thuringen Rundfahrt, La Route de France, Exergy Tour and Giro del Trentino.
She has also represented the US in every World Championship since she began racing professionally in 2009, securing three team time trial world titles from 2012-14. She currently sits in the top 10 in both the WorldTour and UCI world rankings.
Not bad for a woman who had an unconventional start to professional cycling.
She grew up in Boston, Massachusetts but upon moving to New York for a job in finance on Wall Street, she joined the Century Road Club Association (CRCA), attended their women's cycling clinics and started racing locally.
In 2009, she decided to take a break from her desk job to concentrate on racing, winning her first NRC title at the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, while guest riding for Lip Smakers. She went on to guest ride with the Webcor Builders that year and won the Cascade Cycling Classic, where she won three of the six stages.
Stevens got her first big professional contract in 2010 with Bob Stapleton’s Team Columbia. Her career skyrocketed from there and she has since raced for versions of HTC-HighRoad and Specialized-lululemon, where he became colleagues and friends with famed sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg.
"Her story is remarkable," Teutenberg told Cyclingnews when highlighting Stevens as a member of her woud-be dream cycling team in June. "She is such a fighter. She came on the team with no experience. You told her what to do and she would fucking ride in front of an elite women's field for 75km and win the race. We all fight for our places but Evie is just like, 'never say never.'
"She was so inspirational at times, to the point where I would say, 'how the fuck did she just do that?' She has a good character, is a great person to have on a team, and makes everyone smile. It was good to be part of her early career, too, and watch her grow and get better."
She’s spent the last two seasons with Boels-Dolmans, and the wished her well in the next chapter of her life in a post on Twitter.
After a successful eight years in bike racing, Stevens says that after the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, she will be ready to end her athletic career and get back to the 'working world'.