Interview: Professional Cyclist Evelyn Stevens

Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that in just a few short weeks an estimated 450,000 cycling enthusiasts are descending upon our city to attend the UCI Road World Championship Races, a nine-day sporting event that is the pinnacle of the sport. The Worlds is truly one of the most thrilling sporting events Richmond has seen, bringing guests into town from all over the world. Not only are we planning on rolling out the red carpet for guests, but hosting the top athletes in cycling. One of those is professional athlete Olympic competitor Evelyn Stevens, who coincidentally got her start as a financial analyst at Lehman Brothers (sound familiar?) but ended up pursuing professional cycling full-time. Whether you’re a cycling fanatic or new to the sport, Evelyn has some insight on how to watch the races like a true fan.

You worked at Lehman Brothers for two years. When did you decide to take the plunge into cycling full time?

I did two years of investment banking at Lehman in NYC and then two years as an associate at Gleacher Mezzanine (now known as Arrowhead Mezzanine). I was on the path to head to business school but I realized I wasn’t ready. At the end of my two years, I just wanted to take a year away from finance and give cycling a go. I thought it would be a one-year-hiatus, but here I am in my 6th year of professional cycling, having competed in one Olympics. Richmond will be my 7th consecutive World Championships!

When you’re training for a race, what’s your daily schedule like?

I wake up around 8:45am (I like to sleep between 9 and 10 hours during training season) and then I do an easy pre-breakfast routine on the muscle rollers, eat breakfast and then head out for training. If I am in the middle of the season, I do around three to four hours of riding with a variety of efforts depending on the day. I come home, eat a good lunch, relax a little and then do some core work or yoga in the afternoon. Then I usually make dinner (I love to cook!) and have a mellow evening. I try to be in bed early when I am preparing for a big race.

What’s your favorite race and why?

I love the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, it is one of the few chances to race in the states at the top level. The crowds are amazing, the race itself is super well-organized and it’s a tricky but really fun course.

Tell a newbie spectator how to watch the race – what should they look out for (other than staying out of the way)?

The first thing would I tell a newbie spectator is that it is a team sport. Often one or two riders are designated the protected riders and the other teammates are there to support them in attempting to win. Before watching the road race at worlds, I would encourage a spectator to research who is on a team. I would Google the USA team and see who the riders are, what their strengths are, and I personally love to know a little bit about who I am watching and their story. Also, I would remind newbies that Worlds are special because all year, pros race with their professional teams and this is the only time in the whole year you line up with everyone from your country.

What are some other cyclists you admire and why?

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg is probably one of the cyclists I admire most. She retired in 2013, but I was lucky enough to race my first three years with her. Ina wasn’t just an amazing racer, she was just a class act. She could suffer so hard on the bike. She always looked out for her teammates and she continues to give back to cycling. I am actually lucky enough to have her on my radio in the ITT (Individual Time Trial) at Worlds.

You’re involved with World Bicycle Relief (WBR). Tell us a little bit about your experiences with the charity.

I have been involved with them for over three years. I feel like I have been given so much because of the bike and I love being able to be part of their mission, which is constantly improving the lives of community members through the power of the bicycle. I was fortunate enough to get the chance to travel to Zambia and see first hand how the bikes are changing lives there. I would recommend anyone interested in the organization to head online to read more about all the amazing things WBR is doing. It was the highlight of my cycling career.

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Wold Bicycle Relief riders in Zambia, South Africa.

What do you hope to accomplish at the UCI in Richmond?

Personally, I hope to have my best races possible in the TTT, ITT and RR. I also hope to show the U.S. how exciting and dynamic women’s bike racing is. I hope after Richmond that more people in the states are on bikes! From town-sponsored bikes to the grocery store to racing bikes.

Any last words for Richmond before the big race?

I would encourage everyone to come out to the races, even if you don’t know anything about cycling. I know as a competitor, the more fans the better and I just can’t wait to show all my European teammates how awesome America and Richmond is!

Learn more about the UCI Worlds Championship coming to Richmond.

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