Coryn Rivera Takes Silver, Kiel Reijnen Bronze in Brutal USA Cycling Pro Road Championship Race
Coryn Rivera takes silver medal in close sprint finish
The rain-soaked streets of Chattanooga, TN., were once again host to the USA Cycling Pro Road Race Championships this Memorial Day weekend. In both the Men’s and Women’s events, the challenging final circuits through the city were pivotal in deciding the winner, with the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team sprinting to podium finishes from select groups of riders.
In the women’s race, Coryn Rivera took second place, just millimeters behind the gold medal. The race was a team effort, with all the women of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team involved in setting up the sprint for Rivera.
Patience was the order of the day on the 70-mile race. With little hope of early attacks staying away to the finish, the team bided their time in the opening laps, before ensuring the Blue Train was well-represented in the lead group. Over the first climb, Coryn Rivera, Katie Hall, Abby Mickey and Alexis Ryan were all sitting comfortable at the head of the race, and were later joined by teammate Ruth Winder.
On the second run up Lookout Mountain the pace was lifted and the lead group began to splinter. With the support of Katie Hall, Coryn Rivera used the descent back toward the finish to bridge up to the race winning group of six riders. The second time up the climb was steady but a much harder pace. Over the crest, 4 riders had a small gap but Katie Hall and Coryn Rivera again used the descent to make it back to the leaders.
A solo attack by Evelyn Stevens went clear in the final kilometers, but hard work by Rivera ensured that the race came down to a four way sprint for the win. With rain falling, the frenetic race came to a close with a challenging sprint on slick roads, with Rivera coming out in second place, just millimeters behind the winner Megan Guarnier.
Rachel Heal, sporting director for the women, was pleased with the gutsy performances shown by her riders, “I couldn’t have asked from more from today; the girls rode a fantastic race. It went exactly as we’d hoped for, and we were so close to pulling off the win.”
Reijnen takes third after heroic effort in the rain
By the time the men’s race made its way from town to the infamous slopes of the Lookout Mountain climb, the rain had begun pouring in Tennessee. The drenched roads and treacherous corners would end up playing a huge factor in the race. With 110 miles of racing, starting and finishing in Chattanooga, the race would be decided on the final circuits around the town. The 13% Kent Street climb would prove pivotal in the outcome. On top form after the Tour of California, Kiel Reijnen was the protected rider for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, and carried the Blue Train to the podium with a third place finish.
An early breakaway got the race rolling, and the UnitedHealthcare Team was represented by Tanner Putt and John Murphy. Riding according to team directions, Putt would later drop back to the main field and work to bring the race back together.
A solo move by Andrew Talansky with 60 miles of racing remaining forced all the teams into chase mode, and it was Brad White and Adrian Hegyvary who did the bulk of the work for the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train – driving the pace so high that the pack was whittled down to less than 30 riders. A final kick by Danny Summerhill on the last ascent of the 4-mile climb narrowed the field further, until there were just roughly 10 riders in contention with Reijnen comfortable in the group.
As the lead group hit the final finish circuits, the torrential rain continued to pour. Multiple crashes in the lead group caused chaos, as riders slid out on slick grates in the road. With Kiel sitting comfortably, heartbreak struck as Reijnen succumbed to an unfortunate mechanical with just 5 miles of racing left. The team car and staff had Kiel rolling again in record time, and it was now a race of passion to get back to the front. With the road running out, Kiel pulled himself back into the race, and took the bronze medal on the line.
The gutsy effort of Reijnen was applauded widely as the most heroic effort of the race, and Reijnen later thanked his teammates and mechanics for support during the day’s events.