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Stevens making best of single Olympic opportunity

By:
Laura Weislo
Published:
July 28, 2012, 21:28 BST,
Updated:
July 28, 2012, 22:29 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 29, 2012
Race:
2012 Olympic Games, Olympic Women's Road Race
Evelyn Stevens (Team Specialized-lululemon)

Evelyn Stevens (Team Specialized-lululemon)

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Strong USA team looking to animate road race

Team USA's Evelyn Stevens has just one chance at an Olympic medal in 2012, and while she is disappointed to not be selected for the time trial, she aims to animate the women's road race on Sunday.

"I think we're going to be really aggressive," she told Cyclingnews. "It's an opportunity for women's cycling to be showcased and be seen by people from around the world who never watch women's cycling. We all know that, and we want to show the world how exciting our racing is."

At last year's world championships, the second most publicized women's race, there was much criticism heaped upon the women for negative racing, but Stevens is confident that tomorrow's Olympic race will be quite different. "It's a shame so many people focus on last year's Worlds. It's such the exception - there are so many other races that aren't like that. It was the strategy of all the major teams then, but if you look at races like Exergy or any World Cup race, it's always good. It's never riders just sitting in waiting. I think this will be more like a World Cup, it will be exciting."

As far as strategies, Stevens said it will be an unpredictable race. "You never know until you start racing, but it's a heavy course.

"Germany and the Netherlands are strong, and you can never discount Italy - there are a lot of strong teams out there, but we have two veterans - Amber and Kristin. Kristin has two Olympic road races and Amber one. Shelley and I are new at the Games, but not new riders, so we have a nice mix.

"It's going to be so cool. I've never raced anything like it, so I'm not sure what it will be like. I've watched videos of previous Olympic road races to get a sense of how it might go.

It was a goal for Stevens to qualify for both events in London, but she needed to make the top five at last year's world championships time trial to qualify for the event, but fell far short at 15th place. While Amber Neben and Kristin Armstrong, who will represent the USA in the Olympic time trial, did not automatically qualify, their pedigree as former world champions and Armstrong's position as defending champion surpassed Stevens's also impressive palmares.

"Personally I'm disappointed, but I think it's a good thing for the US that we have three top women competing for spots.

"Time trialing is such a specific skill. Kristin and Amber are some of the best if not the best at it. I'm looking forward to watching them, seeing how they prepare and hoping that they'll teach me why they are so good at time trialing. That's the best way to learn and get better.

"I also made some changes since last year, moving to Boulder and working with Neal Henderson. I have a really amazing support network now. It's helpful. For example when I crashed uphill at Trofeo Binda, I clipped a pedal - Connie Carpenter was there. I went back with her to Lucca and we were able to analyze it quickly, see what I did wrong, and instead of focusing on the crash, and helped me focus on the positives - I was keeping a good position and able to go with Vos. In the past I would have focused on what I did wrong, but now I can just go forward. People crash, you watch the men's race, they crash all the time. The best bike racers crash. I'm new, so when I do it's a bit more highlighted."

Her main focus for the moment is trying to keep the nerves at bay before the road race, and to work out her strategy for any possible race scenario.

"I think this is going to be a race where you have to pay a lot of attention. It's not a traditional bike race where you have six or eight women, you have no radios, and on this course there are lots of turns and you can get out of sight really easy. You have to make sure you pay attention to what's going on.

"I like to go over in my head lots of different scnarios. A lot of cycling is mental, and you have to not put barriers on yourself, you have to think anything might be possible. There are a lot of people who tell you you can't do this or that, but those things might actually happen. You have to think positively, and know that no matter what the scenario you can succeed."

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