Not an easy race, but not a climber’s race: OC’s Coryn Rivera to climb Mt. Fuji in Tokyo Olympics

By Kathryn Barnes and Amy Ta

Coryn Rivera of team DSM competes in the 2021 USA Cycling Professional Road Race National Championship. It was a nine-lap, 71-mile course across downtown and South Knoxville. Photo by Casey B Gibson/USA Cycling.

Orange County resident Coryn Rivera will represent America in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics this summer, after placing 12th in La Course by Le Tour de France last weekend.

The Olympics course heads up Mt. Fuji and includes more than 7,000 feet of elevation gain.

“It's kind of a group of climbs in the first 60 kilometers that undulate up towards that elevation, and then a little flat spot, and then a descent down into the Fuji Speedway. Definitely not an easy race, but I wouldn't necessarily call it a climber’s race either,” says Rivera, who was born in Garden Grove before moving to Cypress and then Tustin.

She’ll be competing as part of a four-person team. Each member plays a strategic role in getting one of their riders across the finish line first.

“The name of the game is saving as much energy as you can until there's a certain point in the race where it kind of explodes,” she says. “That's where the leader will shine and use their strength to make a go for the win.”

She notes that six-person teams are typical for most races. “The Olympics is special in the sense that it's only a team of four, so you're a little bit more limited, and you have to be more strategic on how you use the team.”

She says their top competitor will likely be the Netherlands, who won the 2016 Rio Olympics.


Coryn Rivera stays in front of the pack during the 2021 USA Cycling Professional Road Race National Championship. Photo by Casey B Gibson/USA Cycling.

The competition — and training for it — is inherently dangerous. And Rivera suffered a concussion at a training camp in Australia last year when she hit a root hiding in the shade and got thrown off her bike.

“I'm normally a pretty good bike handler, but when you can't see a massive bump in front of you, it really takes you by surprise,” she says.

She took a break for a few weeks before carrying on. “I didn't have too many symptoms, so I got pretty lucky on that one.”

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