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Wildlife Generation’s Brendan Rhim crossed the line solo to win the Clarendon Cup at the Armed Forces Cycling Classic on Sunday. Rhim had been part of a three-man breakaway that escaped, after an initial attack by his teammate, Jonathan Clarke. Best Buddies Tanner Ward countered, and was soon joined by Rhim. Ward was second, and Clarke third.
“I wasn’t expecting the break to go like that, it had been hard for a while,” Rhim said. “I saw Jonny up the road, L39ion started organizing and I just went over the top, through a couple of corners and bridged the gap pretty quickly. I actually went right by Jonny and thought, I got to keep going! I think only Tanner and Jonny could get to me, and then we were off.
“It usually doesn’t work, with just you and a teammate. It makes it that much easier, and that much more motivating to know that you have a guy to play some cards with at the end.”
After a slew of crashes and mechanicals in the first half of the race, groups had been strung out with both L39ion of Los Angeles and Best Buddies Racing missing the winning move. The early chaos left groups strung out across the 1km course, with teams trying their best to regroup and organize. Nearing the midway point, over half the field was out of the race. Only 51 riders out of over 120 that started the day would cross the line to finish.
“There had been a lot or crashes, I think because of nerves, but also there were a couple of corners where you think you could pedal through them but you can’t,” Rhim said. “Especially if you haven’t done this course before, you’re not really ready for it.”
Rhim’s teammate, Scott McGill finished 4th on Sunday, repeating his result from Saturday to win the overall omnium for Wildlife Generation. Out of 4 riders that arrived to race, the squad got three on the podium, continuing its momentum in Virginia, after dominating Joe Martin.
“We just wanted it to be a hard race. We knew we probably had a little more depth than the other riders and could get deeper into the race and still have fresh legs,” McGill said. “We just kind of followed for the first half. It ended up with Jonny and Brendan in the group of 3, which was great. After that, I was thinking I could try and get across, or try and follow some riders to do well in the omnium. It ended up working out.”
Alfredo Rodriguez of Best Buddies finished 7th on the day to earn second in the omnium, with Colombian sprinter, Juan Arrango racing for the Puerto Rican squad, Emanuel Ibarry/2nd Bike Team finishing in third.
“The race was complicated, with all the US crit teams here,” Arrango said, completing his first Armed Forces Cycling Classic. “All of them are strong, which made it tough to fight for the omnium and the crits. But, we had to race smart, and look for the right breakaway. We remained focused the entire time and in the finale we did our best.”
After a weekend of racing in the shadow of our nation’s capitol, many of the teams will travel to Tulsa Tough next, to continue their summer block of crit racing before heading to Tennessee for the pro national road championships.