After an incredibly consistent week of racing, the American rider jumped into the GC lead after the fifth stage of the seven-stage race and never looked back.
Stephens said that her win would not have been possible without the support of her TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank team, who protected her from the start.
“I’m always nervous the first stage, and this year my team surrounded me at the front and kept me safe the first part of the race,” Stephens told VeloNews. “I was so calm from that point on because I saw the commitment from my team from day one.”
Stephens, who spent the coronavirus lockdown training indoors at her home in Texas, returned to Europe ahead of the Strade Bianche. Since that time, she has found unexpected cohesion with her team.
“It has been incredible how in synch we are,” Stephens said. “I couldn’t do this without them.”
The last American champion of the French stage race was Tayler Wiles (Trek-Segafredo), who won the overall in 2015. Stephens was second place that year and has always expressed intentions to defend the jersey.
Chloe Hosking (Rally Cycling) won Wednesday’s flat and fast 98-kilometer stage. The Australian sprinter finished ahead of Britain’s Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) and Poland’s Katarzyna Wilkos (Mat Atom Developer).
Spaniard Mavi Garcia (Ale BTC Ljubljana) and Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer (Austrian national team) accompany Stephens on the podium. Yara Kastelijn (Ciclismo Mondial), the 2019 European cyclocross champion, takes fourth place in the general classification, while the French Sandra Lévénez (Arkéa Pro Cycling Team) and Victorie Guilman (FDJ-Nouvelle-Aquitaine-Futuroscope) finished fifth and sixth.
2020Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardèche stage 7 results
1. Chloe Hosking (Rally Cycling Women), at 2:19:51
2. Alice Barnes (Canyon SRAM Racing), at s.t.
3. Katarzyna Wilkos (Mat Atom Deweloper), at s.t.
4. Nina Kessler (Team TIBCO – SVB), at s.t.
5. Lauretta Hanson (Trek-Segafredo Women), at s.t.
6. Catalina Anais Soto (WCC Team), at s.t.
7. Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), at s.t.
8. Anastasia Carbonrari (Aromitalia Vaiano), at s.t.
9. Ceylin del Carmen Alvardo (Ciclismo Mondial), at s.t.
10. Urška Bravec (Alé BTC Ljubljana), at s.t.