Rivera: Call me just a sprinter, one more time

With over 70 national titles; a university degree; a pro contract with Sunweb; and incredible victories in Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the Tour of FlandersCoryn Rivera has already achieved more than most professional riders can even dream of accomplishing. Not only that, but she is re-defining herself as a rider and whatever you do, don’t call the 24-year-old just a sprinter because this complete bike racer is taking European racing by storm and the scariest part is that she’s only getting started.

Sunweb are based in Limburg, the southernmost province in the Netherlands, and coincidently that’s where Rivera will make her next race outing at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. It’s a far cry from Tustin, California, where Rivera comes from. The transition from the US to a European heartland can jolt even the most talented of riders but Rivera’s determination and dedication has seen her sail through her opening few months as a full time pro at the WorldTour level.

“Back in my American Criterium days I was always pigeonholed as ‘just a sprinter’,” she says. “But I’ve progressed as an athlete, made the steps to become a better climber and improved my power. I’ve always called myself a bike racer, and whatever I’ve needed to do to cross the line first, I’m going to do it. Sprinting is a strength of mine, sure, but I look at myself as a complete bike racer.”

In it for the long haul

Despite the recent success in Europe, the completeness in Rivera’s cycling arsenal has not come about overnight. She has had to work on weaknesses, pay her dues as a domestique in several races, and essentially learn her craft both at home in the US, and now in Europe. What’s carried her through has been her resilience.

All the while Rivera has picked up a degree, an element she had to combine with racing.

“I had to finish an online exam the night before Worlds in Richmond,” she admits. “I left it a little later than I probably should have but the next morning I raced Richmond and made it into the main break. I don’t know if the whole team knew I was doing the exam but my roommate, Evie Stevens did.

“It was important for me to go to school. Not just as a back-up plan and something to fall back on, but to have that normal college experience. We don’t make as much as the men and I’m not making millions of dollars. I know that cycling won’t last forever and it can be over at any moment. One bad crash, and that’s it. I know at some point I’ll get into real life.”

“In terms of goals, nothing has changed. For each race we’ve gone in there thinking ‘how as a team are we going to win this?’ and ‘how can we play off each rider’s strengths.” Our team’s strength is being able to adapt.”

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