Since she began cycling at the age of nine, America’s Coryn Rivera has won 72 national championships spanning road, track, cyclocross and MTB. A pro rider since 2014, Coryn rides for Team Sunweb and has notched up an impressive list of wins on the European circuit, including the 2017 Tour of Flanders, 2017 Prudential Ride London, and, more recently, this year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour and the Team Time Trial title at the Tour of Norway.
Whilst in the UK for this year’s Prudential Ride London event, the almost-26-year-old (it’s her birthday at the end of the month) kindly answered my Q&A thanks to Sunweb team sponsor, Liv Cycling. Great to have you on, Coryn!
This year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour was your first multi-stage race GC win – how did you enjoy the race, and how did it feel to take the overall win?
The race is amazing. It is well thought-out and well planned by the race organizers. All the stages are super-exciting to race and watch for the very supportive crowd. It’s arguably one of the more prestigious stage races on the Women’s World Tour calendar. It is a huge honour to take the overall win. I personally don’t see myself as a GC (general classification) racer, but our coach, Hans, and all the girls believed in me. We took each stage day-by-day and I ended up in a great position to take the overall win thanks to their trust and hard work. I couldn’t have achieved the win without them, I owe it all to the team. It was an amazing feeling and I broke new ground for myself as a rider.
What do you typically eat on the morning of a big race?
If I had a choice, it would be bacon, eggs, and oats before a race and luckily in the UK those are normal things to find at breakfast. Maybe that helped contribute to such a great GC win that week!
Do you have any pre-race rituals?
Maybe not rituals but just getting prepared for the day; breakfast 3 hours before, a snack and getting ready 1 hour before. Just the usual routine. I normally pin on my numbers on the bus transfer to the start and I use pins from the US because they tend to be stronger than the pins I find here in Europe, haha… I guess that can be [called] a ritual!
Is there such a thing as a typical week of training for you?
My training depends on the upcoming block of races. Recovery is always important before races so that I’m sharp and recovered. But if I have some time before races I end up doing about 15-20 hours a week with efforts according to the upcoming race, [depending] whether there will be longer, steadier climbs, or short, punchy and intense efforts. And, as always, I keep my sprint sharp by having some sort of sprint efforts almost every day. On rest days I usually try to get a massage in and stretch, and do a bit of core. I do some cross-training in the winter months and during in-season breaks to stay fresh, like mountain biking or going into the gym.
You’re a sprinter for the team but have also taken a GC win – does your training reflect the nature/distance of the events you have coming up or is it pretty consistent?
Absolutely. You always have to train for what you are racing for, otherwise how are those efforts relevant? I have longer days and longer blocks of training before longer races.
What does your training look like – do you train by power, by HR, do long rides, hills, sprint sessions etc?
Most of my training is based on power. But sometimes by feeling. I do a variety of training and efforts to work on the different things I need. I don’t really focus on only one thing, but I do have some sort of sprint efforts almost every day.
How have you seen the interest in women’s cycling change during your last five years of riding?
The interest in women’s cycling is definitely on the upswing. The races aren’t as long as men’s racing and you can almost rarely expect to see an early break go only to be caught in the last 10km like the men. So our racing is more unpredictable and more exciting to watch, and I think the spectators know that. Professionalism is also growing within the peloton as well. It’s great to be part of this generation of women’s cycling as it will help set up the future of the sport and I like to think we are helping it grow in the right direction.
Do you use any mental strategies in racing and training?
Your mental game is what makes the difference at the highest levels of the sport. Everyone trains and puts the time in, but the decisions in your head are crucial. Personally, I always like to challenge myself in training and always push to the next level, hitting new power PRs or time PRs.
In a race it’s more about calculating your energy in a smart way. You always start the day with “X” amount of energy; once you’re out of it you start making mistakes or wasting energy. So I always think about how I want to use the energy I have, and part of that is, say, my positioning in a sprint. If you start from too far back it will take too much energy to get to the line first. If you start your sprint too forward you might not be able to hold it to the line and maybe your competitors can have a better run from behind. Or when is the best time to use energy to get in the right position before a climb. Those are some mental strategies I think about in a race.
You’ve raced across everything from road and MTB to track and cyclocross. What’s your ideal race length and discipline?
I love racing on the road. I love the difference in terrain and the corners, using teamwork, and outsmarting the competition. And I love the heat of the moment in a sprint where every decision is crucial. But I also enjoy MTB, track, and cross. They all bring different things to the table that are useful in road cycling like bike handling skills, leg speed, and shorter intense effort.
Do you ever train on a turbo or Wattbike or is most of your training outside?
Living and being from California, most of my training is outdoors and I prefer to be outside enjoying the fresh air and feeling the wind. But sometimes I do train on a trainer or rollers in inclement weather, or if I don’t have much time to get outside.
What are your favourite items of kit for racing and training?
For racing I always prefer using our Etxeondo TT gloves. The leather palm offers better grip, especially when it’s hot out and my hands get sweaty. I’m not a big fan of padding in my gloves as sometimes I can’t really feel the bike, or maybe it’s because I have small hands, haha. And for training sometimes I use a sleeveless jersey to help even out the tan lines on my arms!
You rode Ride Prudential recently – is one-day racing a format you enjoy?
I definitely enjoy one-day racing the most. All-in, one goal, and if it goes good or bad the day is done and you can start fresh on a new race.
What upcoming races are you looking forward to, and what are your winter plans?
There are a lot of races in the end of the year that I look forward to. I have never raced Sweden or Norway so it will be exciting to do those for the first time. Madrid also has a new TTT (Team Time Trial) that will be helpful for prep going into the TTT World Championships. And, of course, defending our TTT title will be a big deal. In the winter, I’m looking forward to shutting it down and focusing on different things. Racing, training, and travel can be very stressful and makes for a long year, so it’s important to recover and reset and do other things you normally wouldn’t do during the season.
Professional Women’s World Tour team, Team Sunweb, is sponsored by Liv, the first cycling brand completely dedicated to women. Find out more about the Liv Langma road bike range used by the team here.