Coryn Rivera charged into Speed Week with two wins on consecutive days in North Carolina. Saturday’s Charlotte Criterium presented by Novant Health provided the platform for a textbook sprint win for Rivera. Sunday’s CaroMont Health Criterium in Belmont, NC., was lit up from the start by the three podium finishers of Saturday’s race. The early break by Rivera, Sam Schneider and Erica Allar caused some drama as teams scrambled to pull them back. It was not to be however, and Rivera outkicked her breakaway companions to double up for the weekend.
The two North Carolina races formed the start of Speed Week, a regional criterium series that attracts the fastest riders to the South East of the US for a week of racing.
The Charlotte Criterium set off under cloudy skies, with distant rumbles of thunder, but the race stayed dry for the first 30 minutes. The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team were made to respond to an early move by the Rally Cycling Team, but with 16 of the 25 laps remaining, the field was together. The pace didn’t let up though, and the team was once again riding the front of the field as solo moves tried to go clear. The rain started falling with 10 minutes of racing left, turning the sharp bends into dangerous situations in the peloton. The UnitedHealthcare Women resumed duties at the front with two laps of racing remaining. Cari Higgins put in a monumental effort on the front of the race, pressuring all the riders in the group and preventing anyone from going clear off the front. It was left down to Lauren Tamayo, in the stars and stripes jersey, to pull Rivera to the line, and she delivered. Rivera was left with a long uphill sprint from the final corner, but was never challenged for the win.
After the race, Rivera talked about how rain affected the situation on the road, “There was a lot of uncertainty with the rain looming. We had to wait until the final couple laps to see what would happen. It was left down to the OG crit squad of Lauren, Cari and I at the end. We knew what we needed to do coming into the final lap, and we pulled it off.”
The men’s event at the Charlotte Criterium did not win the luck of the draw with the weather. The rain that provided a dramatic finale to the women’s race worsening as the men toed the line. As thunder and lightening moved closer to the racecourse, the race director made the difficult decision to postpone the event. The rain did not let up, however, and it was soon apparent that there would be no finale to contend.
The Charlotte Criterium is a fundraiser for the Brain Tumor Fund of the Carolinas. The teams of the men’s peloton unanimously backed the race director’s decision to donate the uncontested prize purse from the men’s race to the title charity.
Manager Mike Tamayo was supportive of the race organisation, “The men can deal with rain all night, but the lightening is a huge hazzard. We back the difficult decision to postpone the event, and would like to thank the organisation for their professionalism. In addition, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team agrees with the generous decision to donate the prize purse to the Brain Tumor Fund of the Carolinas.”
Doubling it up for Rivera at CaroMont Criterium.
The Belmont, NC., based CaroMont Criterium went down on Sunday under friendlier skies that the day prior. Mixing up the playbook from the normal run of events, Coryn Rivera responded to an early attack to go clear of the field with two of her biggest rivals. The podium trio from Saturday’s event, Erica Allar, Sam Schneider and Rivera rode the break all day. The rest of the UnitedHealthcare team was left to defend the front of the peloton to prevent other riders from bridging to the move.
The break worked smoothly for the entire 60 minutes of racing, with spectators left wondering what fireworks would go down on the final lap. With only a small gap to play with between them and the encroaching peloton, the riders didn’t mess around. The win was decided from a three-way drag race into the homestraight. Rivera used the width of the road wisely to get away from her erstwhile companions, and crossed the line clear to take her second win.
Behind the lead group, Lauren Tamayo took second in the field sprint, good enough for 5th overall on the day.