HTC-Columbia's Evelyn Stevens says she will use her first full season as a professional to continue her lighting transition to a full-time member of the women's peloton.
A revelation on the women's cycling scene in 2009, Stevens' contract with HTC-Columbia has completed a rapid twelve-month transition from a career on New York's Wall Street to that of a professional cyclist. Despite six wins last year, including a stage win at La Route du France and overall victories at the Fitchburg Longsjo and Cascade Classics', the 26-year-old Stevens will continue to focus on the steep learning curve of her chosen sport.
"I'm just really hoping to learn. I think coming into the sport so quickly, there's a lot of things I really need to focus on if I really want to become a really top-level, world-class cyclist," Stevens told Cyclingnews at the HTC-Columbia training camp in Majorca. "You have to have everything down pat to be the best: your bike-handling skills, your tactics; there's a lot I still have to learn."
Within months of taking up the sport in 2008, guest appearances with the US Lip Smackers and Webcor Builders teams last season ensured Stevens was able to demonstrate her obvious talent. She admits that her quick-fire journey to the top of podiums had left little time to take stock of what was happening.
"Yeah, it happened that quickly. I was like, 'oh, oh, I won again'. The family joke was that I'd send emails saying 'I won this race, or I won that race', and then they started seeing stuff in papers and on the internet. I had a long winter of training, but the summer flew by," she said.
Now a part of one of the strongest teams in women's cycling, Stevens' sophomore year will give her the opportunity to settle amongst the riders established in the women's peloton. She is convinced it is the best place to foster her development within the sport.
"In my opinion, how are you going to ride like the best if you don't ride with the best; my new teammates are great cyclists," she said. "When I came over with the US national team, I would watch these women and see how they moved throughout the peloton and their team tactics. When I raced against them I would think 'that's a really classy, professional group of women', so to now be a part of it is really exciting."
Her new teammate, Judith Arndt was witness to Stevens' strength in the road race at last year's World Championships, where both made the final selection in that race. The German's advice to her American colleague is to have patience.
"I saw her at Worlds and I think she did a really good job for the American team it was very impressive," Arndt told Cyclingnews. "She is relatively inexperienced, sometimes riders can get too motivated and make mistakes in training, but we will see."
For Stevens herself, however, patience is a virtue she appears to possess in plentiful supply. "I'm just taking it one day at a time," she said. "I'm just hoping to be the best team player in what ever role HTC-Columbia wants me to play."