Video Interview: Evelyn Stevens discusses best season yet, women’s racing and 2013 goals
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Video Interview: Evelyn Stevens discusses best season yet, women’s racing and 2013 goals

by Shane Stokes at 4:24 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Video
Flèche Wallonne winner describes breakthrough success, and how beating Vos has affected her mentality

Evie StevensApril 18th, 2012. Evelyn Stevens and Marianne Vos are side by side with approximately 400 metres to go in the women’s Flèche Wallonne race, with a wilting Linda Villumsen (GreenEdge-AIS) and Lucinda Brand (AA beginning to lose contact.

Rounding a steep bend Stevens guns it, making her move, but Vos sweeps by and opens a gap as the road begins to flatten out just before the line. The daylight between them makes it look like it’s game over but Stevens persists and continues to fight. Gradually, inch by inch, the Specialized lululemon rider stubbornly claws Vos back, draws alongside and edges past her before the line. It was a perfect pacing strategy, a masterful display of chess, and earned her the biggest result of her career.

For Vos, it was one of the biggest disappointments. She’d won the race four times in the past and must have felt sure she had a fifth triumphe secured with 100 metres to go, but faded to finish shattered and four seconds down, vanquished in mind and body.

Stevens made Vos look mortal, and that couldn’t be said about too many people in 2012.

“Flèche was incredible. I think it was one of those days when everything went well,” the American smiled, sitting poolside at the Colina Verde resort at this month’s team training camp. The sun was an hour from setting, the skies were blue and she appeared both relaxed and motivated as she thought back to a historic result.

“The team was perfect, they worked the whole race…I just sat in. it was probably the first race ever where I was saved for the end in that big race scenario.”

Heading onto the sheer Mur de Huy for the final time, Stevens was feeling good but had to use her head as much as her legs to beat her rival. It was a question of pacing but also of bluff, of holding back until the right moment and then flooring it with the line in sight.

“At 500 metres to go I tried but you are not going to drop Marianne at that point. I was leading out and I realised I had to get off the front,” she said, detailing the adrenaline-fuelled thoughts that were going through her head at that moment. “I just stopped pedalling…at the time I thought it would be either the dumbest or the smartest thing I had ever done.

“It was pretty steep. I just stopped, it looked like I almost blew up. She attacked, I just went as hard as I could…Sometimes you just get lucky, everything works out.”

The use of the word luck is based on modesty rather than reality. Strength and strategy won her the race, rather than fortune; she knew her own ability and played things perfectly, while Vos overestimated slightly and paid the price.

Upwards curve continues:

Flèche Wallonne was the biggest result of the year for Stevens, but far from the only one. The former investment banker bought her first bike in 2008 and continues to make rapid progress, clocking up several wins in 2012.

Early on she won the overall in the women’s Tour of New Zealand, then after her Flèche success she won Gracia-Orlova, the Exergy Tour, a stage [plus third overall] in the Giro Donne, and two stages plus the overall in the Route de France.

In addition to that, she and the Specialized lululemon squad won the first-ever world championship team time trial for trade teams, then she was runner up in the individual time trial.

The first of those results elated her, the second motivated her for the future.

“None of us were superstars, but all of us were good and strong,” she said of the group test. “I think the reason we won is because we rode as a team. We rode to each other’s strengths and each other’s weaknesses.

“The silver medal in the individual time trial makes me want gold a whole lot more. I want to become world champion one day, that is a huge goal of mine, a huge focus,” she continued. “Being on a team like Specialized lululemon means you have great support. So you might as well go for it – who knows if it can happen, but you have got to try at least.”

In the exclusive video interview below, Stevens talks about these topics and also her unorthodox background and a hugely impressive rise to the top of the sport. She also discusses the success of the Specialized lululemon team, the important role manager Kristy Scrymgeour has played in running it, her thoughts on the development of women’s racing and what she would do if she was UCI president. Her initial schedule and goals for the upcoming season are also revealed.

(Clarification: in relation to equal prize money proposal for world championships: this is still under discussion and has not yet been finalised by the UCI.)


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