Wednesday’s opening stage led racers from Framlingham to Southwold on a mostly flat 130km course that was expected to lead to a bunch sprint finish, despite strong winds. With two intermediate sprints, there were opportunities for Team Sunweb to win valuable bonus time toward the general classification (GC). Rivera – supported by a smart team lead out that included Leah Kirchmann – powered past the competition to take the maximum 3 second advantage at the first sprint. She went on to take third in the second intermediate sprint and fought against a headwind and slightly uphill finish to land on the podium for the day.
“Julia [Soek] did a great job shepherding me into the final kilometers and it was Lucinda [Brand] who really saved the day and got me into position with one kilometer to go,” said Rivera. “If it wasn’t for her help I wouldn’t have been able to go for the podium. In the end we placed ourselves well in the final corner – the challenging headwind and slight uphill finish was heavy. I’m thankful that I could finish third after a crazy last few kilometers.”
Stage 2 from Rushden to Daventry was a very different race, with three QOM challenges over the hilly 145km course, including two passes of the notoriously steep Newnham Hill. The race also included three intermediate sprints, an opportunity for Rivera to continue to build her points and time bonuses. As the peloton approached the first sprint in Easton Maudit, Rivera was in prime position and took the win and the maximum advantage. Rivera also captured second place on the second of three sprints.
After a few breakaway attempts, the race was brought back together on the second ascent of Newnham Hill, just 2.3km from the finish line. The race would be decided by a reduced bunch sprint as the group headed back into Daventry. Rivera came from behind into the final stretch and threw her bike ahead over the line to win by a half bike-length aboard her Liv Langma Advanced SL team bike.
“A lot can happen in this kind of final but we had all of the girls there in the last lap and we did a great lead out until the final climb,” said Rivera. “Floortje [Mackaij] had a monster pull to pace me in the right way and I was able to be in the front group over the top. Ellen [van Dijk] kept it strung out until the finish and I was able to sprint really well in the end.”
Rivera has now moved into the Green leader’s jersey after Stage 2, while also leading in the points and sprint classification with three more stages to go.