Brendan Rhim (Arapahoe/Hincapie p/b BMC) claimed a scintillating overall victory in the Tour de Beauce, vaulting up from fourth to first in a stage that came down to the final kilometre after 644 kilometres of racing. Diego Milan (Inteja IMCA-Ridea) won the final stage ahead of Rhim and Keegan Swirbul (Floyd’s Pro Cycling) from a breakaway that gained enough time for Rhim to take the overall win ahead of James Piccoli (Team Canada), unseat Nickolas Zukowski (Floyd’s Pro Cycling) who dropped to third.
Heading into the final stage, the riders at the top of the overall standings were separated by mere seconds, with Zukowsky leading Tyler Magner (Rally UHC) 0.97 seconds, followed by Zukowsky’s teammate Serghei Tvetcov at six seconds, Rhim at ten seconds and defending champion James Piccoli (Team Canada) at 14 seconds.
The teams knew that anything could happen on the final stage through the host town of Saint-Georges: the 12 laps of the 10.2 kilometre urban circuit with a two kilometre-long climb, and twists and turns through residential streets has always been difficult for any team to control.
Rally UHC started the action by sending Pier-Andre Cote up the road on the second lap. He was joined by five other riders, including teammate Adam De Vos and Milan. Cote was 1:31 down on Zukowsky, and became the virtual leader of the race when the gap went over two minutes. Floyd’s did not panic, setting a steady tempo to limit the damage.
As the dwindling bunch began to reel in the break, Milan stayed away and was joined by Rhim’s teammate Ben Wolfe on the fourth to last time up the climb. Rhim then jumped across with a group containing Piccoli, Keegan Swirbul (Floyd’s Pro Cycling) and Stage 4 winner Griffin Easter (303 Project) as the race began three laps to go.
Unfortunately for Rally UHC, Magner cracked, leaving them with Kyle Murphy as their best placed rider, 53 seconds down. The gap between the six leaders and the yellow jersey group was 30 seconds, putting Rhim and Piccoli ahead of Zukowsky, who was isolated and forced to lead the six-rider chase. On the last lap, the chasers managed to bring the gap down to 15 seconds at one point, but Piccoli and Wolfe worked to stretch their gap back to 30 seconds.
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