Coryn Rivera isn’t hanging about. In only her first full European season on the World Tour, the 24 year-old could have been forgiven for taking it easy, perhaps finding a more experienced mentor and treating it as a learning experience.
Instead she’s been omnipresent, mixing things up at the sharp end of races and, as often as not, coming away with a victory, podium place, or top ten finish for her troubles. The biggest of these was at Flanders, where she was the first American to win the Ronde.
Now, to top it all off, Rivera has just heard she’s been named the Voxwomen Rider of the Spring, as voted for by the public.
Going into the second half of the season, Rivera has this year’s World Championships road race in her sights. “It’s a good course for me,” she says. “Rainbow stripes is definitely a goal in my career, especially if the course suits me.”
Before Bergen is the London-Surrey Classic, at the end of this month. As well as being another fast profile that suits her, it’s one of the few races that awards equal prize money to men and women.
Winnings for the Women’s Tour de Yorkshire, where Rivera came second behind Lizzie Deignan, actually exceeds that of the men’s. When Rouleur suggests that it’d be nice if some of our continental cousins were to follow suit, she emphatically agrees:
“Hopefully we can get these old European races to get their heads out of their asses and make some gears move.”
Less than six months into her first top flight season and already fighting for a fairer deal for her colleagues.
More TV coverage would be welcome as well. The most common current complaint, from fans and riders alike, is how difficult it is to watch the women battle it out. Even the recent Giro Rosa, the biggest stage race in women’s cycling, at which Rivera appeared on the podium in three out of ten stages, was only available to viewers in Italy.
Being such a long way from home, it’s a particular frustration for Rivera from a personal point of view.
“I have friends and family who want to follow” she says, “but there’s really nothing we can offer.”
One suspects that her father, on the back of whose tandem she took her first pedal strokes at the age of eight, would be especially eager to see more of his daughter in action. Not that Rivera showed her potential from her first time in the saddle.
“I think there were even some times when I fell asleep on my dad’s back,” she says, “so maybe I wasn’t so good right off the bat. But once I got older I was able to push a bit more power.”
It can’t have been easy to move half-way around the world at such a young age. Nevertheless, she has no doubt that the step up to WorldTour level with Sunweb, after three seasons at United Healthcare Pro Cycling, was the right thing to do.
“I had some experience racing in Europe with the US national team, so it’s not like I jumped into fire. Even when I was a junior as well, I’ve just always known. It’s been my dream since I was a kid to race in Europe full-time.”
Sunweb have been pretty accommodating as well, providing Rivera room in a team house on this side of the Atlantic, and allowing her to fly home to California when she’s not racing.
Plenty of riders struggle to adapt to the cultural differences of a big European move, but it sounds like this support and flexibility goes a long way to explaining how Rivera has slotted so seamlessly into the peloton. Still, with the competition in women’s cycling higher than ever, results were far from guaranteed. As much confidence as Rivera has in her ability, even she admits, “I’ve definitely surprised myself the first full season.”
Like Flanders, the Voxwomen Award was a win she wanted, and one she worked for. She sounds pretty chuffed with it.
“I pushed the link out everywhere and had my friends push it out there and vote. It definitely means a lot to me, more than just winning a race. I think it shows that people like me and believe in me.”
We think so too.
Further votes will be held at the end of summer and autumn to find the rider of these periods. The Rider of the Year will then be announced at the Rouleur Classic in London in November.