The third time was not the charm for Coryn Rivera, who took a third consecutive silver medal at last year's USA Cycling Pro Road Championships.This time around, the Sunweb rider aims to bring home to coveted stars-and-stripes jersey from Knoxville, Tennessee.
"It's been three years in a row getting second place at the road race national championships." Rivera told Cyclingnews. "Each time, getting second doesn't feel any better by the year either. It has made me hungrier over the years and I've learned from each situation.
"I would feel absolutely stoked but also relieved to win the road title."
Rivera was second to Megan Guarnier in 2015 in Chattanooga and 2016 in Winston-Salem, and again last year to Amber Neben on the Knoxville course. As in previous years, she comes into this championships as one of the favourites to win the race.
"For sure, it has been a big target, it has been every year for me," said Rivera, who won the criterium title in 2014. " But I still approach it like every other race, I go in 100% and looking to do my best. I am lucky to have a teammate with me this year as well in Ruth Winder. We placed second and third respectively last year, and with our combined efforts, hopefully, we can improve on our results."
The women's road race will take place on Sunday, June 24, and the course will start and finish in the same location as Friday night's criterium, which is a slightly new final compared to the road race finish last year.
In much the same as the previous year's route, however, the women will race along a 12.9km circuit that has a steep one-kilometre climb on Sherrod Street. The women will race nine laps for 115.8km.
Rivera said that it is nice to know what to expect regarding the circuit, but she also noted the more technical final, compared to last year, and the hill each lap, which could favour a small breakaway again.
"It is pretty much the same as last year, some slight changes in the last couple of kilometres, and a different finish line as well," Rivera said.
"At least you can kind of know what to expect from last year. Although there aren't too many challenges, it is possible to win from a break on this course. I think the changes in the finish line makes it more challenging.
"Going up Clinch Ave before the final corner is a nice little kicker before the finish line, somewhat similar to the kicker before the finish line when Nationals was at Winston-Salem.
"Sherrod Road is the main climb of the day, and although it's not crazy-long, it is pretty steep and will wear on the legs over the laps."
Rivera hasn't had the same collection of victories in the early season as last year. She has shown winning form as of late, however, after securing the overall title at the OVO Energy Women's Tour, and she won two stages of the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour before that, which give her confidence going into the road race on Sunday.
"I believe I have had some of the best preparation going into Nationals than I have had in the past," Rivera said. "Two really hard stage races, back to back, along with results along the way. I definitely have momentum with me and I hope it will continue to roll into Nationals.
"So, for sure, I feel strong and race ready, but it will definitely be a different field, different teams, and different race dynamic than the two stage races."
New favourites are to be expected each year, but there will be two familiar faces on the start line that have defeated Rivera over the last three years; two-time winner Guarnier and defending champion Neben.
Other riders to watch are Allie Dragoo (Twenty20), Amgen Women's Race overall winner Katie Hall and Leah Thomas (UnitedHealthcare), Lauren Stephens (Cylance), Emma White (Rally), Tayler Wiles (Trek-Drops) Kendall Ryan (Tibco-SVB) and Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM), and Lily Williams (Hagens Berman-Supermint).