VALKENBURG, Netherlands (VN) — Evelyn Stevens’ motivation is showing after winning a gold medal with her Specialized-lululemon team on Sunday in the first event of the UCI Road World Championships. She takes that medal and the confidence gained this season into the week, when she will represent the U.S. in both the individual time trial and road race.
“It’s great motivation,” she told VeloNews after winning the inaugural women’s team time trial at the Limburg worlds. Stevens, whose Specialized squad has dominated team time trials in 2012, said that a week of focused training with established riders Trixi Worrack and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg had improved her technical abilities against the clock.
“Just to get this practice… In the start of the week, I was gapped in the corners, but today I felt like I knew what I was doing,” she said. “That gives me the confidence for the rest of the week. Once I get to the Cauberg, it won’t be about skills, but how deep I can dig. I’ve had a big season; I have no expectations but I am going to give it all I got.”
Stevens, the 2010 and 2011 U.S. time trial champion, was part of the winning six on Sunday and worked hard to set pace for the team up the Cauberg climb to the finish. The Cauberg, famous from the Amstel Gold Race every April, also features in the individual time trial and road race this week. Stevens saw the climb at race pace in the BrainWash Ladies Tour last week, placing second to Marianne Vos (Rabobank). That and several wins – from the Exergy Tour to the Route de France – ranked her fourth overall on CQRanking.com headed into the worlds and positioned her to lead the U.S. squad. Stevens represented the U.S. in the London Olympics and with her win at the women’s Flèche Wallonne, 2012 has been her best season to date.
Already a world champion on Sunday, an individual medal would top off the year for Stevens.
“I like the road course; I raced here on Sunday,” she said. “We have a strong team and we have options. My fingers are crossed that I have a good day. You never know what they are going to think, but I think we are going to use all of our cards.”
Stevens will turn her attention to the national team on Monday, but said that her first-year Specialized squad, which Kristy Scrymgeour built from the ashes of the successful HTC-Highroad team, has played a major role in her unmatched 2012 campaign.
“Our team is dialed — our physiotherapist, our mechanic… Every detail is taken care of to allow us to ride as fast as we did,” she said. “We see the men’s setup with busses and staff. We don’t have as much, but we run just as professionally and with much less money. I wish we could’ve done the same course today so that we could’ve compared times.”
Stevens confirmed she would continue with Specialized next season. We will see in a few days whether she will do so in the rainbow bands of world road race or time trial champion.