Thanks @ednl for the video. Super impressive win from Evie Stevens of Specialized lululemon on the Mur de Huy. She followed the wheel of four-time winner Marianne Vos, then with picture perfect timing, came around to win by a bike-length and then some. Linda Villumsen of GreenEdge finished third, well back from the leading pair.
At the beginning of the year, Stevens said that Flèche Wallonne was among the races she would most like to win. She believed the final climb suited her, but she had struggled in the past with the narrow, technical roads that lead to the final climb. Earlier this season, Stevens crashed trying to follow an attack from Marianne Vos at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda. This time, Stevens kept the bike upright.
From the start, her coaches have raved about her power and her physiology – that Stevens has that perfect balance of strength, weight, and speed to win the big races. Now, we finally start to see what the fuss has been all about.
Also notable, Megan Guarnier of Team Tibco finished seventh on the Mur de Huy. Guarnier is a rider on the move – she won her first international race last year at the Giro di Toscana. She is more in the mold of a sprinter than Stevens, but seventh in this World Cup is a big step forward for Guarnier, an ex-swimmer turned bike racer.
For the U.S., the results from Guarnier and Stevens are good news. The U.S. started the season on the knife edge of the Olympic selection game. Would the U.S. get two starts or three starts in London? Much depended on how the U.S. riders finished in these early season races. I haven’t done the math just yet, but today’s race should help that cause significantly.
At the beginning of the season, Tibco team owner Linda Jackson said she was committed to helping the women chase the UCI points necessary to make it to the Olympics and she arranged for the team – including Guarnier – to travel to Europe to race. It takes a village.
For Stevens personally, this result should also help her cause in the selection game. And if the U.S. does in fact get those three starts? Guarnier looks better and better as a possible pick for London.
Certainly, the list is shrinking: Stevens, Kristin Armstrong, Amber Neben, and Megan Guarnier have the most recent top level results of the American women.