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VeloNews awards 2017: Rivera’s dramatic Tour of Flanders win

Pint-sized sprinter Coryn Rivera becomes the first American, man or woman, to win the Tour of Flanders in a thrilling finale.

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Editor’s note: To close out 2017, we named our 30th annual VeloNews awards in the November/December issue of VeloNews magazine.

Female performance of the year: Coryn Rivera wins Tour of Flanders

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You may have heard of Coryn Rivera‘s 70-something national championship titles, across road, track, and cyclocross, from her time as a junior, under-23, and elite racer. It’s a staggering figure.

In April 2017, one result immediately eclipsed all of her previous victories. The pint-sized American sprinter beat Orica-Scott’s Gracie Elvin and Boels-Dolmans’ Chantal Blaak to become the first American, man or woman, to win the Tour of Flanders.

“There are really good performances that are unexpected and those that are very expected,” Rivera says.

“What makes my win at Flanders so special is that I don’t think anyone expected me to do what I did. No one had any idea I had a chance to win that day — even myself.”

Aggressive racing saw Rivera and her Sunweb teammates on the back foot late in the race. She and teammate Ellen van Dijk, within a group of 15, chased relentlessly on the run into the finish, catching the leaders with one kilometer to go.

The diminutive sprinter jumped out of the saddle with 250 meters to go, snagging the win at the line.

“Flanders is definitely one of my greatest achievements. The fight and willpower to keep going made the difference,” she says. “And to hear the national anthem playing on such a big stage for cycling was pretty special.”