The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team opened the 2016 season as they mean to continue, with a resounding victory for Coryn Rivera on the opening stage of the Tour Femenino de San Luis.
The 110-km stage was raced over three challenging loops of the same circuit. Featuring three significant climbs, all with KOM points, the team’s goals were to position Rivera for the finale and secure the Polka Dot jersey of the Mountains competition for Katie Hall. The team raced assertively to achieve both goals.
As expected in the opening race of the season, the pace was high from the start, with multiple teams battling to stay at the front of the peloton. With such a high pace, no riders were able to escape from the group, and instead the front pack got smaller as riders struggled to hold on. Rivera tested her legs at the first intermediate sprint point, coming through in second place. As per the race plan, the team then regrouped around Rivera for the run in to the finish.
The fast downhill run in to the finish was notably chaotic, with multiple teams battling for the same space on the road. The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team benefited greatly from the experience of Iris Slappendel, who navigated the Blue Train through the front of the pack to position the team. Diana Penuela took the reins as the final lead out rider, and delivered Rivera to the line for the win.
With the season starting so early, Rivera was pleased to prove her form after a winter of training, “I am thrilled and ready to get the season kicked off with the girls at San Luis.” With new teammates in the mix for 2016, Rivera was happy to see the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train dynamic was as strong as ever, “We have some new additions to the team here with Iris, Annie, and Diana but they are great riders and even better people as we have gotten along very well through the long travels and the days leading up to the race.”
Katie Hall came to Argentina with hopes of repeating her Mountain Classification win from 2015, and she started the race with the form to accomplish it. With the pace high at the front of the pack, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team ensured no riders could escape on the climb and take the points. By the second time up the climb, Hall had positioned herself perfectly, and jumped from the bunch to win the points on the climb. She would repeat the move on the third and final lap, finishing the day in the lead of the mountain classification. With each day providing multiple opportunities to collect mountain classification points, Hall will stay vigilant for the remainder of the race, with the aim of returning to the USA with the Polka Dot jersey.
Stage two of the Tour Femenino de San Luis is a 98-km circuit starting and finishing in Villa Mercedes. The stage, which is much flatter than the opening stage, gives the team another chance to sprint for Rivera.
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