Coryn Rivera's dream start to her Team Sunweb career continued Sunday with the biggest win yet of her career at the Tour of Flanders. Racing full time having finished her studies, Rivera is well known in North America due to her sprint exploits and is now wowing European fans in a similar manner. Only, now the 24-year-old is doing so at the highest level of the sport and can forever hold the claim as the first American winner of De Ronde.
Starting her season with 15th at Omloop van het Hageland, Rivera has steadily improved across the classics campaign. Despite her victory at Trofeo Alfredo Binda and third place in Gent-Wevelgem, Rivera wasn't considered an out and out favourite for De Ronde. However, she timed her run to the line to perfection and took the win ahead of Gracie Elvin and Chantal Blaak.
With a celebration of disbelief when crossing the line, Rivera was overcome by emotion after her victory, explaining in her first television interview post-victory that "This is unbelievable. I can't begin to explain it yet."
Having had time to gather her thoughts and revel in the win, Rivera was full of praise for her teammates, breaking down the actions which led to victory.
"Just to start the women's Ronde van Vlaanderen is absolutely incredible, it's such a beautiful race," said Rivera, who was 16th on her debut last year. "The team did a brilliant job keeping the leaders safe and in a good position throughout the race. When the going got tough the team animated the race with Rozanne [Slik] taking a lead before the Kanarieberg. Here we showed our intentions to make it a hard race and when the first bunch of 30 exploded on the Kruisberg, we were up there but we couldn't follow on the climb.
"The team gave everything on the Kwaremont to get the group back at the wheel and we almost closed it, but in the end we couldn't follow the four best climbers. From the moment that Hans [Timmermans] made the call to go full gas for me, Ellen [van Dijk] took charge of the pace. The sprint was absolutely thrilling, but I still feel like I am dreaming."
Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans further explained that victory was only possible through dedicated teamwork and was thrilled to have executed the plan.
"Today is a perfect example of how this team can create a plan and make it work no matter what," said Timmermans. "We missed the power on the hills which makes it even more impressive that we took the win today. All six of our riders did a perfect job today and you need a complete team effort to win Flanders. We are thrilled to take the win at such a prestigious race."
With her victory, Rivera became the first multiple winner in the 2017 Women's WorldTour and leads the season-long rankings on 325 points. Former leader Elisa Longo Borghini drops to fourth with Elena Cecchini (Canyon–SRAM) into second on 265 points.
The next race on the Women's WorldTour calendar is the inaugural running of Amstel Gold Race to kick off a full Ardennes week of racing for the women's peloton. A race which could well suit the fast finish of Rivera.
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