Thousands of people lined 13th street in Hyde Park to cheer on some of the world’s top women pro cyclists Monday. This marked the final stage of the inaugural Exergy Tour. Four fighter jets flew low over the start line Monday morning as the cyclists lined up to begin the race.
The crowd counted down the last ten seconds as First Lady Lori Otter pulled the trigger on the start gun to send the riders on their way. The 46.7 mile route took riders through Boise’s Northend and into the foothills before finishing back in Hyde Park.
American Evelyn Stevens of Team Specialized-lululemon won the overall title. Her team won the overall team classification with Amber Neben (USA) and Clara Hughes (Canada) finishing alongside Stevens on the podium.
Stevens used to work on Wall Street before she bought her first bike. At a press conference Monday afternoon she told reporters that bicycle racing is “a lot better than investment banking.”
The current national time trial champion hopes she’ll be selected for the London games this summer. Olympic team selections happen June 15th. Stevens says the team rode strong on this final stage. “We wanted to show Boise, Idaho what women’s bike racing is like,” she says. “We wanted to put on a show.” That show meant for aggressive riding with teammate Clara Hughes breaking away fairly early on and staying away through much of the race.
Stevens’ teammates joined her on stage as she popped the cork on a bottle of champagne and sprayed them. They then doused her with another bottle of champagne. The winners will share what’s thought to be the largest cash prize for a five day women’s stage race in history – $100,000.
Stevens says this is one of the best stage races that she’s ever participated in. Some of her teammates including Hughes raced in Idaho during the years of the Women’s Challenge. That multi-day stage race lasted for 19 years.
With that history in mind, Stevens says the team had high hopes competing in this first Exergy Tour. “But it’s (Tour) exceeded all of our expectations,” she says. “I mean honestly today (Monday) was one of my most favorite bike races I’ve ever partaken in. I felt like I was in a classic in Europe. There were people lined up every place we were racing.”
People did line up along the climbs to run alongside riders and cheer them on. Some wore costumes including one man who dressed up as the devil to prod the racers up the steep climb.
Monday’s stage came down to two women who sprinted for the finish line. German rider Claudia Hausler of GreenEDGE – AIS won the stage, outsprinting Stevens. They both received the same time of two hours, four minutes, eight seconds. Jasmin Glaesser of the Canadian National Team came in third.
More than a 100 riders from 16 teams began the Exergy Tour on May 24th. Monday 69 finished stage four. The Tour began with Boise native and Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong of the Exergy TWENTY12 team crashing in the two mile prologue. But Armstrong didn’t miss a stage. After Friday’s surgery to fix her broken collarbone, Armstrong was at every stage to cheer and to coach her teammates from the sidelines.
Clara Hughes commented after the race that many of the pro cyclists hope this first Exergy Tour won’t be the last. The Tour’s marketing director Heather Hill says she wants this race to become the fourth major race in North America along with Amgen Tour of California and the Pro Challenge in Colorado. “That’s the vision from here,” she told reporters.