The View From the Front of the Famous Ronde van Vlaanderen
In her first attempt at the famed Ronde Van Vlaanderen, Coryn Rivera came across the line in an impressive 16th place. The breakout ride is validation of the effort that the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team has invested in their European Classics campaign this spring. The team has spent the last month immersed in the racing and riding culture of Belgium, learning and improving in the very different style of competition. Coming away from the race with a strong placing, Rivera solidifies her position as one of the strongest female racers to come out of the US in recent years.
Building up to Rivera's strong finish at The Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team animated the entire day of racing as Iris Slappendel and Linda Villumsen showed their strength in early breakaways. Featuring 10 climbs and 5 decisive cobbled sections, the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train's early moves were important in forcing the hands of the other teams in the race. As the race hit the first major climb, the Kanarieberg, the peloton was split into three distinct groups. Rivera was prepared for the move, and focused on staying fueled during the early part of the race, "The race is a little longer than usual so for the first 50km or so I focused on eating and drinking. Then when the cobbles and climbs started I began to focus on positioning. The real racing started when the cobbled climbs started towards the tail end of the race." The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team had multiple options early in the day. Villumsen and Slappendel both made the second group on the road, ensuring Rivera could avoid working too hard to maintain her position.
As the race continued, the group split once again on the Oude Kwaremont. With such a long course to cover, the action wasn't over yet, and the race-winning selection came on the Paterberg climb. Merely 400-metres long, the Paterberg's increasing gradient shattered the riders, leaving Rivera in a select chase group of just 11. With Women's World Tour points on the line, Rivera sprinted to 2nd in her group to take 16th on the day.
Coryn's View of Flanders
"There's no going easy or sagging on the cobbled climbs. Everyone is going full gas then pushing even harder over the top. The most decisive move of the day was when the break went over the Oude Kwaremont. It is such a brutally long and rough climb and at the end of the race it proves to be a very important section. I gave it my all on the day. And I never stopped fighting. It's an honor to race such a legendary race on such historic roads. And for my first ever De Ronde Van Vlaanderen, I am proud of finishing 16th." - Coryn Rivera