After missing out entirely on the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic that halted all racing in the United States and much of the European calendar, 2019 Tour de Beauce winner Brendan Rhim is taking no chances with his future and has signed with the Irish outfit EvoPro Racing and committed to racing in Europe in 2021.
Rhim had planned on his first full European campaign this season with the Hincapie-Leomo team and had moved to Girona with the squad just before the pandemic led to lockdowns across the continent. The team quickly returned to the US, but eventually the entire season of pro racing in the country was cancelled.
Earlier this month, the Hincapie team announced it was ending, and in order to save his cycling career, Rhim had to act fast and get onto a European team so he stood a better chance of getting to race.
"With the team going away I had to make a hard decision or regret it for the rest of my life," Rhim told Cyclingnews. "Stuck in the US without racing all summer I figured I needed to take things into my own hands for 2021. I applied to roughly 50 continental teams and as you can imagine had a pretty rough go at it. The market this year has been more competitive than ever. Throw into the mix the end of the Hincapie program and I was panicked."
Fortunately a few team directors responded and EvoPro director Morgan Fox, who already signed former US champion Jonny Brown in July, offered him a spot.
"In my first conversations with Morgan Fox, I instantly felt part of their family. I can’t wait to have a proper go at one-day racing in 2021 and be a part of the future of his program," said Rhim.
Fox said the team is always interested in young talent, especially "riders who may have slipped through the net of U23s".
"We feel that with the addition of Brendan we add to our competitiveness in the sprint train and the classic hardman Northern European races," Fox added.
Rhim made his first big splash in the US racing scene at the 2015 Redlands Bicycle Classic when he won the stage 4 criterium and the sprint classification with Cal Giant-Specialized, then took criterium and road race D2 Collegiate titles at Furman University. But he had a setback that summer when, while racing with the US national team in Belgium, he crashed in a rainy kermesse and fractured his patella, collarbone and wrist.
He moved to the Hincapie team, then called Holowesko-Citadel, in 2016 while still in college, and came in third in the U23 national championship in 2017 behind Nielson Powless and Gage Hecht. In 2018, he won the time trial at the Joe Martin Stage Race and finished second overall, and won the final stage of Redlands. He had a breakthrough year in 2019, winning the Tour de Beauce stage race and finishing third in the stage 4 sprint at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah behind Marco Canola and Travis McCabe.
"Last year was my biggest to date, the overall at Tour de Beauce, sixth at Pro nationals despite the notorious 'Beauce cold', then finishing off the season with a top three on a stage of the Tour of Utah. I thought these results would be enough to generate interest from the big teams, but unfortunately it was not enough."
Rhim said he had some interest from other US Continental teams but had unfinished business after the 2020 non-season and felt he needed to get overseas.
"In my mind, 2020 was going to be my first go at full-time training and racing in Europe. But as we know, all that came crashing down in March."
Today's best Black Friday deals
Today's cycling-related highlights from the Black Friday sales. For even more, view our guide to the best Black Friday bike deals where you'll find on all things cycling, including bikes, helmets, clothing and more.
Today's best deals: USA
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