by Andrew Crisp
The scene at today's finish line drawn in the middle of Boise's Hyde Park was chaotic. Music blared from speakers as announcers Dave Towle and Olympic gold medalist Connie Carpenter-Phinney served as eyes and ears for the crowd.
"We used to call this Boise, Idaho," said Towle. "Welcome now to Pain City, USA."
Just then, the pack came roaring down 13th Street. Evelyn Stevens of Boulder, Colo., and Team Specialized-Lululemon followed closely behind German Claudia Hausler of GreenEdge-AIS. While Hausler eked out a narrow victory in the final stage of the race, it was the 29-year-old Stevens who took the prize for the tour at large.
On stage after the ladies dismounted, the winners assembled alongside Idaho first lady Lori Otter and Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey to receive the Exergy Tour trophy, sculpted by local artist Irene Deely, owner of Woman of Steel Gallery.
"It's one of the best cycling competitions I've ever been a part of," said Stevens. "There were fans lining the roads everywhere we went."
A former Wall Street associate, Stevens began racing in 2008 with the purchase of her first bike. She told the hundreds of fans assembled before the stage that if she could do it, anyone could.
"I'm a little bit late to the sport of cycling, so hopefully, people can hear my story and realize it's never too late, and never too early," she said.
She was then joined by her teammates, second-place winner Amber Neben and third-place winner Clara Hughes—making it a Specialized-Lululemon sweep. They were introduced by Boise's own Olympic Gold Medalist Kristin Armstrong, who broke her collar bone in an accident on the first day of the competition. The group then uncorked bottles of champagne and sprayed the crowd.
Stevens' teammates then turned on her, dousing her from head to toe. She now hopes to move on to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.