Fresh off her victory at the Boels Rental Ladies Tour in the Netherlands, Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon), has a boost of confidence as she looks ahead to the UCI Road World Championships at the end of the month.
The six-day stage race that navigates the narrow roads of Holland served as a tune-up for the women’s peloton as worlds wait just a few weeks ahead. Past winners include Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) and Ellen van Dijk (Boels Dolmans), both of whom have gone on to win at worlds shortly thereafter.
For American Stevens, the Holland Ladies Tour provided confirmation of her form. “Getting the win at the Ladies Tour is huge for me. I’ve struggled in Dutch racing for some time, so walking away with this win was a big surprise and a huge boost of confidence,” Stevens said. In Ponferrada, Spain, Stevens will race three elite categories: team time trial, individual time trial, and road race.
“As I get more experienced and further into my career, being able to represent both my country and my trade team at the world championships is a huge honor. I’m especially looking forward to the team time trial because we’ve been racing so well together,” Stevens said, “but the individual time trial and road race should great as well. The road race last year was amazing, but I think this year it could be even better, as the depth and strength of the women’s peloton should make for an exciting race.”
Stevens will enjoy the boost of wining. After positioning herself well in the opening time trial at the Boels Tour, she sat just 31 seconds back on the general classification, while her team maintained a stranglehold in the top-20, providing a near-perfect scenario for Specialized-lululemon as the week would unfold. Teammate Lisa Brennauer went on to win stage 2 while Stevens remained quiet in the field.
It wasn’t until stage 4, however, where Stevens made the break that stuck to the line which put her in the leader’s jersey. With Brennauer sitting comfortably in second on GC at that point, it became “an all out team effort,” Stevens said. “Whether I went up the road in a break or if Lisa went, we would retain the lead on GC. All of the ladies were ready to work and they were going with every move, sitting on breaks, doing everything they could so we could hold onto the lead.”
Stevens recounted the technical stage 5 finish, in which her teammates kept her protected in the last three kilometers. “They rode out of their skin to keep me safe,” she said. Similar roles were taken by her team in the final day of racing, where Stevens finished fourth on the stage, securing her win at the Tour and providing the women’s peloton with a good look of what Stevens has in store for worlds.
The team time trial, raced by trade teams, is Sept. 21. The individual time trial is two days later and the road race is on Sept. 27.