The third Amgen Tour of California women's time trial was a true test of power, and the one woman who passed with flying colors was winner Evelyn Stevens. The Specialized-lululemon rider stopped the clock in 55:49 for the taxing 31.6km parcours, featuring a rolling opening 29km sector followed by a leg-sapping 2.7km climb up Metcalf road to the finish.
Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS) finished second at 56 seconds while Kristin McGrath (Exergy TWENTY16) rounded out the top three at 1:24.
Stevens, the penultimate starter, was actually caught by Powers, the final starter, midway through the race as the NOW and Novartis for MS rider erased the 30-second deficit to Stevens on the wide open, crosswind section.
"I was very surprised to catch her as early as I did," Powers told Cyclingnews. "I knew I had to save a little for the climb but at the same time the rollers and twists and turns and speed, that's what I'm good at so I felt I had to take advantage.
"When I was with Evy and we were back and forth I just had to stay focussed on riding my own race. I think it was really good to have her [there]. The pacing for this course was really hard to figure out but it was good.
"It [the climb] was awful. It was really hard. I did a bike change at the bottom and I'm really glad that I did. That climb was hard."
Stevens, however, put her climbing prowess on display on the ascent to the finish as she rode away from Powers and stamped her authority on the race.
"It was the longest time trial I've done so you had uphills, downhills and flats and actually Alison Powers caught me pretty soon into the course," the race winner told Cyclingnews at the finish. "I knew had to keep it steady, steady, you win it in the second half.
"You had to stay in the game on Hill Avenue and once I hit the climb I just went full gas," she added.
US time trial champion Amber Neben (Pasta Zara-Cogeas) was on a good ride but lost control on a fast, twisty descent and slammed into the rocky embankment along the left edge of the road in a dramatic crash. Neben required medical attention and was unable to continue.
Evelyn Stevens (USA) Specialized-lululemon
Alison Powers (USA) NOW and Novartis for MS
Kristin McGrath (USA) Exergy TWENTY16
Jade Wilcoxson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Mara Abbott (USA) Exergy TWENTY16
Alison Tetrick (USA) Exergy TWENTY16
Brianna Walle (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies