Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) won her first individual time trial in several years at the Tour of California on Friday. It was a good sign for Stevens as she heads to U.S. Pro Nationals next week in Chattanooga, TN.
"I'm beyond excited right now. This is so special. I mean, I haven't won in a long time. I haven't won a time trial in a really long time," Stevens said. "California is my home now, my mother-in-law to be was in the car, Neal [Henderson] who is my coach, was in the car with me. It was a little bit of a scramble. Joe from SRAM Neutral Support was my mechanic, and more importantly I announced this morning that my prize money is going to World Bicycle Relief. It is so cool to win first and know that they can get all of that."
Inclement weather in Bear Lake forced organisers to set up a last minute course at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita, CA. Twenty two riders rode the short 10.5km that started immediately before the men's time trial. The course left the Six Flags parking lot and rolled along a flat, non-technical loop, before returning to Six Flags. Riders easily manoeuvred around potholes and broken pavement making for fast times throughout the afternoon.
Amber Neben (Visit Dallas-Noise 4 Good) took the early race lead. Neben stopped the clock with 14:20 making her the time to beat for most of the short race. It was a victory of sorts for Neben whose last ride at the Tour of California TT resulted in a career threatening crash. Neben finished off the podium in fourth place, but was still pleased with her ride.
"It was exciting, I was hopeful. It was a short course for me, and a flat course for me," Neben said. "I was gunning for it, so to be in the hot seat was exactly where I wanted to be. I was nervous but those girls that came in were that much faster."
Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-SVB) was the next rider in the hot seat with a time of 14:16. Stephens had been preparing to race at altitude in Big Bear Lake but still managed make her presence felt at sea level. Despite the venue change it was an ideal test for Stephens who is also targeting Nationals in Chattanooga next week.
"We will have a quite a bit longer course next week so it will be a little bit different, but this is a good check point going in," Stephens said.
Kristin Armstrong (Twenty 18-SHO-AIR) was disappointed with her race despite a long absence from the sport. The Olympic gold medallist placed third, only seven seconds down on Stevens.
"I had high expectations," Armstrong said. "You know, it's my first race back in three years so I don't know what I was expecting. I was hoping to come out on top."
Armstrong is also eager to tackle the Nationals course planned for Chattanooga.
Like Stephens and Armstrong, Evelyn Stevens was using today's time trial as an acid test. While Stevens is hoping to have a good ride at Nationals, her major build up is aimed at the Giro Rosa and Worlds Championships in Richmond, VA. Stevens has come close to big wins at the world championships individual time trial title in the past. In 2013 she placed fourth, and in 2014 took third.
To get over the hump, Stevens spent the winter and spring dialling her time trailing program. Steven's coach, Neal Henderson, said she's worked everything from wind tunnel studies to race preparation to find the extra seconds.
"It is the small things, when you do it right, that lead to that success," said Henderson.
All the riders on the podium expressed their gratitude to the race organisers for making sure the women's race ran.
"Thanks to Medalist sports and Amgen for realising we can't ride in the snow, and coming up with this fun course in 24 hours" Stevens said. "I don't know how they did it, but they did an amazing job."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Evelyn Stevens (USA) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team||0:14:12|
|2||Lauren Stephens (USA) Team Tibco - SVB||0:00:04|
|3||Kristin Armstrong (USA)||0:00:07|
|4||Amber Neben (USA) Visit Dallas||0:00:08|
|5||Tayler Wiles (USA) Velocio - SRAM||0:00:09|
|6||Tara Whitten (Can)|
|7||Linda Melanie Villumsen (NZl) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team||0:00:11|
|8||Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Velocio - SRAM||0:00:22|
|9||Jasmin Glaesser (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||0:00:30|
|10||Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team||0:00:31|
|11||Allie Dragoo (USA) Twenty 16 p/b Sho-Air||0:00:33|
|12||Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Velocio - SRAM|
|13||Sarah Storey (GBr) Pearl Izumi Sport Tours||0:00:34|
|14||Carmen Small (USA) Twenty 16 p/b Sho-Air||0:00:45|
|15||Rhae-Christie Shaw (Can) BMW p/b Happy Tooth Dental||0:00:48|
|16||Alison Tetrick (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies||0:00:51|
|17||Laura Brown (Can) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team||0:00:59|
|18||Emma White (USA)||0:01:12|
|20||Ana Teresa Casas|
|21||Maria Carla Alvarez (Arg) Xirayas de San Luis||0:01:27|