Evelyn Stevens: Battenkill on the NRC is epic

The Tour of Battenkill joins the NRC for 2011 and former winner Evelyn Stevens predicts an epic battle

The battle for the 2011 women’s National Racing Calendar titles will go through the torturous dirt roads of Upstate New York when the Tour of the Battenkill hosts the first-ever women’s professional edition in April.

“We’re thrilled to be able to add the women’s NRC race to our schedule for the professional weekend this year,” said race organizer Dieter Drake. “It was the next big step we wanted to take after two successful years with the men. Finally, the women will have a chance to shine with what we hope will be some great competition and great teams attending.”

The Tour of the Battenkill has grown in the last four years from cult favorite to one of the most talked about events on the American circuit. Modeled after the northern classics of Europe, the one-day UCI event travels the rolling gravel roads in and around Cambridge, New York, and tops a two-weekend series of pro-am races. Battenkill appeared on the UCI America Tour for men in 2010, but only saw a portion of the country’s top men’s team make the trip. With NRC status and the new women’s event, 2011 should prove to be a boon for Battenkill promoters.

The hard women of the U.S. peloton will fight over one 62-mile lap of the circuit on April 16. Riders like new Tibco recruit Alison Powers and world championships Tissot award winner Katheryn Curi-Mattis should go well on the rough roads.

Evelyn Stevens won the pro-am event in her break out 2009 season before signing with HTC-Columbia. She called Battenkill epic. “It’s a race of attrition,” said Stevens, who won a small group sprint over Lyne Bessette and Laura Van Gilder. “It’s an awesome race and if I’m able to, I’d love to do it.”

The Tour of the Battenkill becomes one of the hardest days on the women’s NRC. Races like the Tour de l’Aude have closed up shop after 2010 and Stevens said the elevation of the American classic is a boon to women’s racing. “Right now it seems like there are a lot of big races going away so for women it’s awesome when you hear of a new race coming up,” said Stevens, . “That’s a great race to have — it’s epic, it’s hard.”