Rivera and Brown capture road race titles
Rivera Captures Elusive Road Race Title for Women; Brown Becomes Youngest Men’s Champion
KNOXVILLE, TENN. - - Coryn Rivera (Newport Beach, Calif./Team SunWeb) and Jonny Brown (Covington, Tenn./Hagens Berman Axeon) claimed dramatic victories in Knoxville, Tenn. Sunday to claim first-time road race titles in the U.S. Pro Road, Individual Time Trial and Criterium National Championships. Sunday was the signature event of the four-day championships, which began June 21 in Oak Ridge with the time trial and concluded in Knoxville.
After three years of second place finishes, Rivera finally won the Stars-and-Stripes jersey in the women's road race by besting three-time U.S. Pro Women’s Road Race national champion Megan Guarnier (San Mateo, Calif./Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team) in the final sprint to the line.
The women covered nine laps of the 8-mile course for a total of 72 miles, punctuated by a steep climb on Sherrod Road with a maximum gradient of 14 percent. Sweltering summer temperatures and high humidity added an extra challenge for all riders.
“I got second so many years in a row now. We just had awesome teamwork here today, stayed patient, and knew what we needed to do to win this. And we did exactly that,” said Rivera, who benefitted from her teammate Ruth Winder (Boulder, Colo.)'s effort in closing down attacks. Winder held on to finished 10th. “All championship events are about attrition, and they are hard. It’s so awesome to have a teammate here. She made the difference.”
At just 26 years of age, Rivera claimed her 72nd national title, won across multiple disciplines and age groups in road, track, cyclocross and mountain bike disciplines. She grabbed another crown in a small bunch sprint in a time of 3 hours, 17 minutes, 30 seconds.
“It is pretty incredible every time. The feeling doesn’t change. After all the hard work you put in, and all the hard work your support team puts in, it’s a good feeling to pull off a win,” added Rivera who will head back to Europe to race with Team SunWeb at the end of July.
Finishing in third, one second behind Rivera, was 21-year-old Emma White (Delanson, N.Y.) of Rally Cycling to capture the Under-23 Road Race national title for women.
“I’m really, really happy with three Top Fives, and two podiums. I don’t think I can ask for more,” said White, who swept the U23 competitions in Knoxville. “Of course, we always head into these big races looking for a win, but the competition was so, so strong here. To be up against WorldTour riders, I feel so fortunate. I would like to thank my team, to thank my coach, Kristin Armstrong. I truly am so lucky to have everybody around me, helping me be the best I can be. My team was fantastic out there. I think I had the best team on the road, but I am a little biased.”
The attacks came early and were aggressive in the 77-rider women’s race, with Liza Rachetto (Boise, Idaho/Hagens Berman | Supermint) staying away in a gutsy solo move for three laps. Rachetto, in her 13th season as a professional cyclist, extended her lead to over two minutes before being reeled in. With less than six laps to go, Heidi Franz (Kirkland, Wash./Rally Cycling), Margot Clyne (Boulder, Colo./TWENTY20 p/b Sho-Air) and Jennifer Luebke (Bend, Ore./Hagens Berman | Supermint) joined together to form a threatening breakaway.
Working well together, the trio stayed away until the final lap. Franz was the last rider to be caught with only four kilometers to go, setting up for the final dash to the finish line.
The men’s road race Sunday afternoon took the riders on 15 laps of the circuit for 120 total miles. Brown, with a daring late attack on the penultimate lap, took his three breakaway companions by surprise to claim the biggest victory of his career in front of his new hometown of Knoxville.
“I'm just so excited. All year, I've been training for this. I've had a rough last two years, this is just unbelievable,” said Brown, who was born in Nashville, grew up in Memphis and now resides in eastern Tennessee. “I moved here a month ago, so it makes it even more special.”
“It's huge. We've been working for this for a long, long time and it feels amazing,” added Brown, who at 21 years and two months of age, he becomes the youngest male to win the U.S. Pro Road Race National Championship. “It was giving me goosebumps every time I made a lap, to hear my name. Then going into the last lap I said ‘I can do this.'”
The newly-crowned men's national champion crossed the line on South Gay Street in 4 hours, 41 minutes, and 11 seconds, giving him a 45-second advantage over Robin Carpenter (San Diego, Calif./Rally Cycling), who was second. Jacob Rathe (Portland, Ore./Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) finished third, 1 minute and 17 seconds behind the winner.
The men’s road race had the first real break of the day three laps into the event. A group of 12 riders broke off the front and gained a maximum of 1 minute and 15 seconds, before being reeled back by the field driven by riders from EF Education First-Drapac. The decisive break of the day escaped soon after with nine laps to go, which included the three podium finishers and Gavin Mannion (Fort Collins, Colo./UnitedHealthcare).
They gained more than four minutes over a chasing group of pre-race favorites, including defending champion Larry Warbasse (Traverse City, Mich./Aqua Blue Sport), Brent Bookwalter (Asheville, N.C./BMC Racing Team), Brandon McNulty (Phoenix, Ariz./Rally Cycling), Kiel Reijnen (Bainbridge Island, Wash./Trek-Segafredo), Thomas Revard (Carmel, Ind./Hagens Berman Axeon), and Benjamin King (Charlottesville, Va./Team Dimension Data). The chase group shuffled and re-shuffled, but were not able to close the gap to the four escapees, who would go on to battle for the victory.
“It’s my first time on the podium for nationals. It feels pretty good. But, it’s definitely a disappointment, considering how the race went,” explained Carpenter about Brown getting a gap on the group at the end of the race. “We had a little more of a gap to make up than we wanted. We lost some time and eventually on the hill (Sherrod Road) Jonny still had 50 seconds and I knew it was time to go. I rode the last half lap as fast as I could, but didn’t have enough to catch him in the end.”
The pressure of the chase, the hot temperatures and heavy rain on lap 11 of the men’s road race decimated the 119-rider field. Rain did not keep fans away, who lined the entire course for both events on Sunday.
“I think this course is awesome,” added Carpenter. “The course makes for a really, really nice race for fans to watch. There’s a lot happening, a lot going on, a lot of good places to watch.”
For complete results, visit the event web page.
PRO 1/2 WOMEN
- Coryn Rivera (Orange County, Calif.), Team SunWeb 3:17:30
- Megan Guarnier (San Mateo, Calif.), Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team 3:17:30 s.t.
- Emma White (Delanson, N.Y.), Rally Cycling 3:17:31 +1”
- Alexis Ryan (Ventura, Calif.), Canyon SRAM Racing 3:17:33 +3”
- Lily Williams (Tallahassee, Fla.), Hagens Berman | Supermint 3:17:34 +4”
- Emma White (Delanson, N.Y.), Rally Cycling 3:17:31
- Janelle Cole (Newaygo, Mich.), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 3:19:32 +2:01”
- Skylar Schneider (West Allis, Wis.), Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 3:22:36 +5:05”
- Summer Moak, (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Rally Cycling 3:23:12 +5:41”
- Hannah Arensman (Brevard, N.C.), Feed Hungry Kids Project p/b Happy Tooth 3:24:01 +6:30”
- Jonathan Brown (Covington, Tenn.), Hagens Berman Axeon 4:41:11
- Robin Carpenter (San Diego, Cali.), Rally Cycling 4:41:56 +45”
- Jacob Rathe (Portland, Ore.), Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 4:42:28 +1:17”
- Gavin Mannion (Fort Collins, Colo.), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 4:42:32 +1:21”
- Benjamin King (Charlottesville, Va.), Team Dimension Data 4:43:52 +2:21”
About USA Cycling
USA Cycling is the national governing body for the sport of cycling in the United States and oversees the disciplines of BMX, cyclocross, mountain bike, road and track. The mission of USA Cycling is to develop the sport of cycling in the United States at all levels and to achieve sustained international racing success while fostering a shared commitment to safety, integrity, and the joy of cycling. USA Cycling works to identify, develop, and select cyclists to represent the United States in international competition, and also supports amateur bike racing through grassroots development programs and the provision of critical infrastructure to run organized racing. USA Cycling’s membership is comprised of racers and cyclists of all ages and abilities, clubs, coaches, officials, mechanics, and race directors. To learn more about USA Cycling, visit usacycling.org
About Visit Knoxville
Visit Knoxville (Knoxville Convention and Visitors Bureau) is the official CVB for the City of Knoxville and Knox County. Visit Knoxville is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, private company that works together with the community, business leaders and local and state government to further develop Knoxville as a premier leisure, meetings and travel destination. The Visit Knoxville Sports Commission is managed by Visit Knoxville and strives to bring world-class sporting events as well as amateur sporting type events to Knoxville, Tennessee.
Jackie Tyson, Peloton Sports Kristen Combs, Visit Knoxville
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