Graduation can wait as Rivera aims for worlds

Coryn Rivera aims for a slot on the U.S. team for world road championships in Richmond

BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — It won’t be long before Coryn Rivera gets a diploma from Marian University. But it’ll be a little bit longer.

UnitedHealthcare’s young star sprinter may only have three classes left to graduate, but she’s put school on hold for the spring semester.

“I think I made the right choice,” she said after winning a local circuit race near Boulder. “Plus, California, Pan-Ams, graduation, and collegiate road nats were all in the same weekend. If I was still in school, I’d be at a loss for something. At least not being in school this semester took two of those out of the picture.”

Contrary to what you might think, the 22-year-old wasn’t putting the bike first in order to defend her criterium national championship title from late last year.

Although she regrets only wearing her stars-and-stripes skinsuit three times before crashing in the final corner in South Carolina last month, her training is geared toward September, as she aims to make the U.S. team for the UCI Road World Championships.

“[I am] just really focusing on my training more. The past few years have been school, primarily as my focus. Now that I’m really getting back into racing again, just focusing more on riding and doing bigger races.”

Many of those bigger races have given her a taste of the top-flight competition she’ll face in Richmond if she makes the team.

Her best result was a fourth place at Omloop van het Hageland, which was won by Jolien d’Hoore (Wiggle-Honda). And for Rivera, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially after her sixth-place finish at La Course by Le Tour de France last year.

“I’m pretty happy with that trip there,” she said.

And though the casual fan might know her best for results in criteriums, the young Californian has taken a shine to longer, harder road races, like the one she’d face at worlds.

“I like the aggressiveness and being attentive and the real teamwork that is involved in those high-intensity, longer races. I really like that kind of racing.”

Sure, Rivera would have wanted to defend her crit champion’s title this year, but it’s OK; she’s accumulated 70 stars-and-stripes jerseys over the years in a variety of categories, across road, track, and cyclocross. There will be other chances.

And yes, it’s likely she’d be happy to take those last three courses to graduate, but all in good time.

For now, her focus rests on Richmond, a race she says will hinge on “patience.”

Based on what she’s shown so far, Rivera seems to understand those elements well, both on and off the bike.