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Brendan Rhim (California Giant-Specialized) won the fourth stage of the Redlands Bicycle Classic on Saturday as race leader Phil Gaimon (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) hit the deck in a huge crash with five laps remaining.
With 30 minutes left in the 90-minute race, a six-man break was off the front with a half minute’s advantage over a peloton led by Optum for race leader Gaimon. The escapees included Rhim; Alexander Ray (Silber Pro Cycling); Ulises Castillo (KHS-Maxxis); Chris Riekert (Mike’s Bikes-Equator Coffees); Luis Amaran (Jamis-Hagens Berman); and Peter Disera (H&R Block).
With 10 laps to go the break was still up the road with its 30-second edge and Optum was getting no help in the chase. Then, suddenly, Disera and Riekert were on the deck in turn number one and the break was down to four with eight laps remaining. Both men got back in, but only Disera made it back to the lead group.
Then another crash, a big one, took out race leader Gaimon and a number of other top-10 contenders outside of the free-lap zone, inside five laps to go. The mishap derailed the pursuit, the officials would have their hands full sorting out the GC, and it seemed the stage-winner would come from the break.
Then Jelly Belly ramped it up going into the bell lap, with Eric Marcotte on point, and the chase abruptly seemed on the verge of success. Castillo attacked the break, but to no effect. Rhim led it out and took the win as the field just missed sweeping up the escapees. Amaran crossed second with Castillo third.
Rhim said he didn’t start the day thinking about winning the stage.
“My focus was to go for the points and maybe the green jersey,” he said. “I was convinced that we weren’t going to make it, actually. Then we got to about 10 laps to go and I was thinking, ‘I guess it might actually work now.’
“This is definitely the biggest win of my career. This is big.”
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from Redlands.