Stephens claims stars and stripes glory in Knoxville
June 20, 2021
Lauren Stephens is the new US Pro national champion!
Under sweltering and muggy conditions in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, today, Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank played their cards beautifully to deliver Stephens to her first US Pro national title.
"It's been a long journey to win this jersey," said Stephens, who recently learned she was not selected for the Tokyo Olympics. "A few weeks ago, I had some of the most disappointing news I've had in cycling. Today, I had the biggest win I've had in cycling."
Team director Katheryn Curi said the plan was to make the race hard from the beginning.
"Emily (Newsom) and Clara (Honsinger) were aggressive on the first lap to and force a break," said Curi, who stood in for Rachel Hedderman while she preps for the upcoming Giro Rosa and La Course.
Newsom was the first to attack, but was brought back after a few miles. Honsinger quickly launched a countermove, which instigated the break of the day that included a Rally, Fount, DNA, and Cinch rider. That group gained an advantage of almost two minutes as they started the third of nine laps.
Lauren Stephens chats with announcers after the race.
As the race worn on, the break started to splinter. With about 40km to go, Honsinger was tracking the solo leader, and meanwhile Stephens used her experience and savviness to attack the reduced main field at the perfect time and was in pursuit.
"My initial attack managed to stick, but with such a hard course, the break eventually blew apart," Honsinger said. "When I looked back and saw that Lauren was away, I sat up to get her on my wheel and then drove it as hard as I could to get it to the base of the climb the last time. From there, she just crushed it on her own and held off the chase to the line.
"We had a smaller team, but our tactic was perfect, and the execution was flawless."
Faulkner finished a strong sixth, Honsinger took 13th, and Newsom 18th after a brutal 114.6 kilometres of racing.