Brendan Rhim finishes the week with the yellow and white jerseys
Photography by Nico Lafita
On Sunday, June 23, 2019, Arapahoe|Hincapie’s Brendan Rhim was crowned champion of the 34th Tour De Beauce. The well-deserved victory came after an aggressive 635 kilometers twisting throughout Chaudière-Appalaches, Estrie, and Quebec. Over the course of the five-day stage race, Rhim and the team relied on consistency, training, and comradery to bring home the coveted yellow and white jerseys.
With a 2017 Tour De Beauce win already under their belt, the team set their intentions early on and refused to waver. Facing off against the defending 2018 champion James Piccoli and 2016 champion Gregory Daniels, the seven-man team included 2017 champion Andzs Flaksis, as well as Ben Wolfe, Seth Jones, Miguel Bryon, T.J. Eisenhart, Andrew Dalheim, and Rhim.
By the end of the first stage, Arapahoe|Hincapie had already asserted their intentions by sending Rhim to secure a third-place finish and zero-second time gap behind winner (and team alumnus) Ty Magner and runner-up Nickolas Zukowsky.
Beginning and ending on the streets of Saint-Georges, the peloton traveled 177 km through the valleys of Etchemin before the winning trio crossed the finish at the same time, 15 seconds before Brunei Continental’s Bruno Langlois took fourth. This was the result of an exceptional team attack that split the race and caught other teams off guard. Following the attack, Rhim managed to slip into the breakaway, which would ultimately provide the tour’s winning margin.
“It really set the tone for the week,” says Rhim. “We realized that we could do anything in this race if we set our minds to it, and we knew the bad luck we experienced in Europe was about to change.”
The team carried their steadfast momentum into day two, which was fraught with challenges. The already grueling summit finish atop Mont-Mégantic was compounded by the added fatigue of racing 170 km in 15° C before it even began. And as if that wasn’t enough, Rhim’s wheel broke 1 km before the climb.
“Take mine, take mine!” Bryon said instantly, sacrificing his own race to save Rhim’s. The two swapped wheels, and just as Rhim began hunting down the field, Jones was there waiting to bring Rhim back into race. After giving his all to put his teammate back in the running, Jones closed the gap and handed Rhim off to Wolfe, who paced him up the first half of the climb.
“It was just one guy after the next, saving me from disaster and putting me right back in,” Rhim says. “There were so many things that could have gone so wrong, but it just went so perfectly. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what a real team effort looks like.”
Canadian cyclist and defending champion James Piccoli won the day’s race while Rhim held on to 5th place in the general classification, 47 seconds behind the new race leader Nickolas Zukowsky.
Despite the setbacks of day two, Arapahoe|Hincapie fought relentlessly through day three’s individual time trial and electrifying 77 km race to move Rhim up one slot in the GC while reducing his time gap to 10 seconds.
Rhim took third in the individual time trial and second in the race, which began in Saint-Georges, wound through Saint-Martin, Saint-Honoré, and Saint-Benoît-Lâbre, and finished at Notre-Dame-des-Pins. At the end of the day, Rhim had not only moved up to fourth place in the GC, but also donned the white jersey, leading the points runner-up Ty Magner 47 to 44.
Day four consisted of the highly-anticipated 70 km criterium in Quebec City. The stage was won by American cyclist Griffin Easter, who was able to lap the field with the help of his team. Despite this incredible accomplishment, the GC leaderboard remained unchanged, though Rally UHC Cycling’s Magner dethroned Rhim by one point for the white jersey. With Rhim still sitting in fourth at 10 seconds behind the leader, the five leading GC contestants were within 14 seconds of each other heading into the final stage.
A 10 km loop throughout the streets of Saint-Georges held the final 120 km circuit race to conclude the 2019 Tour De Beauce. After enduring 12 laps of fierce winds and intense racing, Rhim clinched the title in a final 200-meter sprint. Dominican cyclist Diego Miguel Jiminez took first in the stage while Rhim managed to out-sprint Piccoli for the second-place time bonus, which propelled Rhim to first place with a 14-second lead.
“The whole week, our sports director, Thomas Craven, had been telling us that we can’t win the race until the last day. We had to save ourselves, save the team, be aggressive, but stay careful,” Rhim says. “I can’t count the number of times the team helped or saved me. I knew I had to reciprocate, I had to go as hard as I could until there was nothing left.”
The team waited until the second half of the race when Wolfe snuck off the front with the eventual winner of the race, Diego Milan Jiminez. Once the pair had a 20-second gap, Rhim saw his chance and initiated a bridging move, bringing along defending champion James Piccoli. The two quickly caught Milan Jiminez, and Wolfe then worked together to hold the peloton at a 25-35-second gap for several laps, pushing the riders to their absolute limit.
With one lap to go, Rhim saw the follow car retreating–a sign that the peloton was closing the gap. He tapped into any reserve he had left, channeling all of his energy into a series of intense efforts that stretched the gap back to 25 seconds heading into the final climb, where he managed to hang on to Piccoli before sprinting away to secure the second-place time bonus and overall win.
Proud but still focused, Craven and his team look to convert this weekend’s excitement into fuel for the USA Pro National Championships, which will take place in Knoxville, TN June 27-30.