Evelyn Stevens (New York, N.Y.) pulled off her first major European road stage race victory with a win in stage four of La Route de France on Thursday.
Riding for the USA Cycling Women’s National Team, Stevens out sprinted fellow American Kim Anderson (Santa Barbara, Calif./Columbia-HTC) to take the stage win and second place in the general classification.
Stevens joined a 10-rider break group mid-way through the 154-kilometer stage from Vierzon to St. Pourcain. The group gained as much as 28 minutes on the peloton. She then attacked solo with around 30 kilometers remaining, holding that lead until the last few kilometers when Anderson was able to bridge the gap. Stevens however kicked it up on the sprint to take narrow victory over the much more experienced Anderson.
“We have an incredible amount of talent in this group so I’m not surprised at all by the performance,” said USA Cycling Women’s National Team Director for La Route de France, Liza Rachetto. “We wanted to race aggressively from the beginning. Our plan today was to send a rider in the break to represent the U.S. We knew there’d be a lot climbs so it was beneficial to send a climber (Stevens) up the road. Evie went with 30 kilometers to go and the attrition certainly worked in our favor. These ladies are learning an incredible amount of strategy.”
The pair finished more than two minutes ahead of the third-place finisher, Monia Baccaille of Italy and over 28 minutes ahead of the peloton. The commanding victory will give them a solid lead in the general classification heading into Friday’s final stage, a 133km road race from Blanzat to Chatelguyon.
“Tomorrow could be another opportunity for us,” explained Rachetto. “There are some strong teams here and we’ve now made them aware of our presence. The U.S. women have worked well together and we expect to continue to have the opportunity to excel.”
Five additional members of USA Cycling’s Women’s National Team program are also contesting the five-stage La Route de France. Ally Stacher (Banner Elk, N.C./Kenda) finished with the pack in 20th at 28:29 back, Carmen McNellis (Durango, Colo./Colavita-Sutter Home-Cooking Light) 22nd, Kristin McGrath (Durango, Colo./Valueact Capital) 31st, Alison Starnes (Larkspur, Calif./Team TIBCO) 36th. Lindsay Myers (Paradise, Calf./Sugar CRM) did not finish.
Stevens, who began racing only months ago, now leads the team in second place overall, 1:19 behind race leader Anderson.