Coryn Rivera Wins US National Criterium Title
With a dominant win at the High Point Cycling Classic, Coryn Rivera and the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s women’s squad have won the US National Criterium Championship, and made it a complete season sweep of the women’s 2014 US National Championships, building on the Road Race and Time Trial titles won by Alison Powers in May.
“It feels pretty amazing to have won all three titles in the first year of having a womens’ component to the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team,” said director Rachel Heal, “We knew we’d hired strong riders, but to be able to create the team chemistry and teamwork to bring those results is very satisfying.”
When Powers won both the time trial and road race earlier this year, she became the first rider to ever hold all three women’s national championship titles simultaneously, having won the criterium championship in 2013. The team’s goal heading into the 2014 criterium national championships was obvious: to keep the jersey in the UnitedHealthcare family.
Rather than sit on the front of the field and chase breaks all day, the team took a more aggressive approach to the event. This served to catch much of the rest of the field off-guard, as the UnitedHealthcare squad not only marked attacks, but made breaks of their own, and comfortably followed anyone who dared to chase or bridge to a break containing a UnitedHealthcare rider.
The first half of the race saw Alison Powers boldly attack on her own, stringing out (and tiring out) the chasing field. Counter-attacks and additional moves came quickly through the first hour of racing, with Ruth Winder, Scotti Wilborne, Cari Higgins and Lauren Tamayo all spending significant time off the front, forcing other teams to adjust and chase. The field dwindled in size as riders were dropped before the pace decreased with just over ten laps to go, as the heat and the effort took their toll on the peloton, and everyone looked to regroup for the final charge to the line.
Activity from the field picked up again with eight laps to go, following a cash prize the lap prior. A few riders tried their hand at an escape, but at that point, the race was all but certain to come down to a sprint as it was controlled first by the Colavita team, and then by the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train. With barely more than two laps to go, a crash saw both Powers and Higgins hit the deck, along with several competitors. All of the riders were ok save for a few scratches and some disappointment. The remaining UnitedHealthcare racers quickly regrouped, with Winder setting pace on the front ahead of Wilborn and Tamayo, while Rivera sat comfortably in their draft.
The UnitedHealthcare Blue Train delivered Rivera out of the final corner and into the closing meters of the race. From there, Rivera did what she does best, finishing the task at hand, winning the sprint, and taking the win, keeping the national championship jersey within the UnitedHealthcare team.
“From the outset, we were going all-in for Coryn in a sprint finish. We’ve been working really hard on perfecting our leadout, and we were confident of it going into the race. Unfortunately, we lost our last two leadout riders with two laps to go, but the remaining racers were able to adjust and still deliver Coryn to the line,” said Heal.
For Rivera, it marked her fifty-ninth career national championship. After the race, she put it in this context, “It’s pretty incredible. It’s my first pro national title. Sometimes I get a little grief for having so many junior and collegiate titles. This one tops them all, and I’m so happy to have won it with the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.”