Rivera flying solo in US road race title defence

Sunweb rider expecting unpredictable race in Knoxville

Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) is back on home soil for the USA Cycling Pro Road Championships in hopes of defending her road race title in Knoxville, Tennesee. But the 26-year-old will have a tougher time seeking her 73rd national championship victory this year as she is without teammates.

The lack of teammates showed in the criterium championship on Friday, when Rivera was just off the podium in fourth place behind winner Emma White (Rally UHC). Rivera tried to attack several times, but three big teams – Rally UHC, Sho-Air Twenty20 and Hagens Berman-Supermint – had her closely marked.

"I got a good little gap once, but nobody wants to work - but I can understand at the same time [why]," Rivera told Cyclingnews. "I was just trying to have some fun, do a race and get back into the US scene a little bit and feel the field and how everybody races."

The road race course is quite different from the criterium, with a nearly 1km climb that kicks up to 10 per cent grades and a few more rolling hills along the 12.7km circuit. The women tackle nine laps, and with the Southern heat and humidity, the race is often one of attrition.

"I feel pretty good physically, but as far as strategy goes, I'm alone this year so it's a little harder. I think there won't be as much control in the field, so I think it's going to be unpredictable and big-gamble racing. Racing alone, I'm just going to be winging it, going on instinct and see where my best bet is."

Last year, Rivera came to the line with three-time champion Megan Guarnier and finally managed to turn around three consecutive second place finishes. Having won on the same course last year, Rivera says, "is a little confidence boost".

"But I have to do everything on my own this year. I'm going to roll the dice and see what I can get."

Unlike 2017, when she won the Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the Tour of Flanders, or last year when she came into the championships with three wins and the overall Ovo Energy Tour victory under her belt, Rivera is searching for her first win of the season.

"For sure it hasn't been the best year in comparison to previous years, and I haven't gotten a win yet. But I've been close and I've been consistent and I think it's coming around," she said.

"I had some podiums, I've been consistent this summer, but the season is long. We go through September and into October even. There are still plenty of opportunities and a lot of races that suit me as well. I'm keeping my eyes forward."

The 2019 season becomes important for next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo, as a result at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire will be key to making the team. Rivera will begin to formulate a plan to make the squad after the national championships.

"First off is making the team is the biggest goal. If and when that happens, then it becomes preparing for the conditions there," she said.

Making the team involves "staying consistent, being a good team player in the team and getting some good results", she says. "I'll probably start looking at what T's to cross and I's to dot soon."

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