Cycling, we are told, is all about the numbers. Which is why Lauren Stephens may be in the perfect sport. Before she turned professional in mid-2013, she worked as a high school math teacher in Dallas, Texas.

“I taught high school math for three years,” she says. “I was a math major, so analytics are really enjoyable. I love logic. When people don’t do things that make sense, it frustrates me.” Maybe Stephens is not in the perfect sport after all.

It’s a long way, geographically and figuratively, from a classroom in Dallas to a rainy day in West Flanders and sixth place in Gent-Wevelgem, and there’s no route mapped out for such a journey. Initially Stephens combined teaching and training, but multitasking sometimes means you end up with one thing detracting from another, and vice versa.

“The first year and a half was difficult. You come out of college, enter the real world and try to start a career and balance training. I didn’t think I would find the balance of being able to train as an athlete and work 12 hours a day. The first two years of teaching are very difficult and there was a lot of crying, but in my third year I started working at a school five minutes from my house. I could get on the bike straight after work and find the balance to work and train.” She adds: “And as soon as I found

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