VALKENBURG, Netherlands (VN) — American Evelyn Stevens nearly won a second gold medal today at the UCI Road World Championships and afterward turned her eyes toward Saturday’s road race. With one gold already in hand from Sunday’s team time trial, the American was hoping for a second one in today’s individual test, but had to settle on silver.
Sitting in the hot seat, Stevens watched a master, Germany’s Judith Arndt, arrive at the top of the Cauberg above Valkenburg 33 seconds faster and claim her farewell victory.
Stevens kept smiling, though. The worlds closes her third professional year, one during which she improved by “leaps and bounds,” as she says. The Olympian and now double worlds medalist sat in the seat thinking, “Last year, I was 15th. This is only my third time trial in the worlds and puts me on path for the 2016 Olympics.”
“For me, it’s nice to see how far I’ve come. It’s also great for the people who’ve supported me along the way,” she told VeloNews. “It’s great to make leaps and bounds, and have the big race on the big day.”
Arndt, 36, will retire after the worlds. Her win on Tuesday was her third elite world title after her 2011 TT win in Copenhagen and her 2004 road race win in Verona, Italy. Arndt was masterful in her win, setting fast times at every one of the intermediate time checks and expanding her advantage on the Cauberg.
“I don’t know,” Stevens said when asked how she could have made up the 33-second difference to Arndt. “I’m not the best technically on my time trial bike. I rode better today, but I know that there’s still room for improvement. What did Judith say? That she started racing in 1991? There’s a bit of a difference and more experience, being able to push your body to that next level.”
Stevens helped Specialized-lululemon win the trade team time trial on Sunday to open the Limburg world championships. The silver medal today adds to a string of victories this year, including round four of the World Cup at Flèche Wallonne Féminine and the overall classifications in the Exergy Tour and the Route de France.
The German won out on Tuesday, but Stevens impressed Arndt. The German knows her well after racing together for two years at HTC-Highroad and battling recently in the BrainWash Ladies Tour, where Stevens placed second overall and Arndt third. Arndt said she knows that it is time to make way for younger blood like the 29-year-old American.
Stevens is happy to oblige.
“I want to go to the next Olympics and win,” Stevens said, motivated by her worlds silver and upset to miss a chance to race the Olympic time trial in July. The U.S. fielded Amber Neben and Kristin Armstrong, who defended her Olympic title, in London. Stevens’ next goal, though, is the worlds road race on Saturday. With a gold and a silver medal, the pressure is on to lead the U.S. to the win.
Stevens will team with Andrea Dvorak, Megan Guarnier, Kristin McGrath, Shelley Olds, Carmen Small and Specialized teammate Neben. As with the men, the meat of the road race is in the circuits around Valkenburg, over the Bemelerberg and Cauberg climbs. Olds and Stevens will enter the day as two of the top favorites to pull on the rainbow jersey.
“I like pressure,” Stevens added. “When you are being watched, that’s the best because when you win [it’s even better].”