Stephens finishes top 20 at La Course by Le Tour de France, Tour de l'Ardeche on tap this weeken
Despite the heightened safety protocols due to COVID-19, the energy in Nice, France was still electric when Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank took the start line for La Course by the Tour de France this past weekend. The 96km race, held on a challenging circuit the riders completed twice, was a battle of attrition. The intense racing was full of attacks and constant high speeds, which saw Lauren Stephens claim a notable 18th place at the end of the day. "La Course is always an exciting race with the number of spectators and media," Stephens said. "This year was a little different from all the restrictions surrounding COVID. For me, I enjoyed racing with the team again after so much time away from racing. It was Leah Dixon's first time racing La Course. Seeing her enthusiasm and nerves surrounding the event reminded me of how special it is to be a part of the Tour de France." Team director Rachel Hedderman said because of the relatively short distance, and the first climb starting less than two kilometers in, the team was prepared for the race to be fast from the gun.
"From our course recon rides during our team camp these past two weeks, we knew the descents would be critical. We had identified critical points on the course and set ourselves up to take advantage of the course knowledge. "When van Vleuten attacked the second time up the climb, Lauren wasn't able to match the pace, but made it into the select chase group and sprint for a great top 20 placing. "I'm pleased with how the team rode at La Course. Despite having months off racing together, they are going well, and the teamwork is apparent. I'm looking forward to the upcoming Ardeche." Now that La Course is over, the team is preparing for the Tour de l'Ardeche, a seven-day stage race in the hills of South-Central France. The race starts on September 3rd and runs through the 9th. Joining Stephens on the Tour de l'Ardeche roster are Leah Dixon, Diana Peñuela, Kristen Faulkner, Shannon Malseed and Nina Kessler. Stephens finished ninth overall in 2019, and is looking forward to seeing where her good form will take her this year. "I'm really excited for Ardeche," Stephens said. "I felt good at La Course, and now that I have a few races under my belt, I'm feeling strong and confident for our first stage race of the season."