Rivera scores first 2018 win in Thuringen Tour opener

After a slow start to the season, Coryn Rivera grabbed her first win of 2018 Monday during stage 1 of the Lotto Thuringen Ladies Tour, beating FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope's Roxane Fournier to the line after 82.5km of racing in Schleusingen. Rivera now leads the overall by five seconds over Fournier and seven second over teammate Ellen van Dijk.

The 25-year-old American took four wins last year in her first season with Team Sunweb, kicking things off with victory at the WorldTour Trofeo Alfredo Binda and following it up with a win at the Tour of Flanders. Wins at the Amgen Women's Race stage 3 and Ride Prudential Classic capped off her first-year immersion into European racing.

Rivera has had a more difficult time finding the podium's top step this year, coming close in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Ronde van Drenthe during the cobbled classics, and then claiming two top-five finishes at California but missing out on the podium. In Rivera's only other US race this year, she was third at the Dana Point Grand Prix behind 16-year-old Megan Jastrab and Italian veteran Valentina Scandolara.

Rivera's dry spell ended Monday, however, after her team took her to the line for a perfectly timed photo-finish win on the slightly uphill cobbled finale in Germany.

“Today was an absolutely beautiful day of teamwork," Rivera said in a post on the team's website. "From start to finish we really came together for our goals today. First with delivering Ellen [van Dijk] to the intermediate sprints for time bonuses, making the race hard at a crucial moment, and still having full energy to do an amazing lead out towards a tough cobbled uphill finish."

Sunweb started things off early over the seven laps on the 12.2km circuit, setting up van Dijk to take top bonus seconds at all three intermediate sprints, boosting her to third overall and to the top of the sprint competition. The team then put Rivera into position to make the four-rider group that pulled away in the final metres of the finale.

At the end of the day, Sunweb came away with the stage win, the overall lead, the sprint jersey and a rider third in GC. A pretty good haul for one day of racing. 

“Everything worked out today," said team director Hans Timmermans. "We took the bonus seconds three times in the sprint and we also took the win. It was a great job by the team and everyone really did their part. The team did a really strong lead out before the climb and we kept it going afterwards. In the end it came down to a fantastic team effort, and it’s great that this is rewarded with the win today.”

Rivera said she and her teammates were hungry and committed to the team plan.

"I’m really proud of what we accomplished today and grateful for the girls hard work in the lead out," she said. "I couldn’t have pulled off this sweet victory without them and the staff behind the scenes.”

The Lotto Thuringen Ladies Tour continues Tuesday with a lumpy 136km stage in Meiningen. The women will cover four laps of the challenging 34km circuit, which features 440 metres of climbing each time around.



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