Redlands Bicycle Classic Men’s Stage 5: Project Echelon Celebrates Victory, Securing the GC and Stage 5 Win

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REDLANDS, California (April 14, 2024) — Brendan Rhim stormed across the finish line to celebrate yet another stage victory, the fourth out of five days of racing for Project Echelon at the Redlands Bicycle Classic presented by the San Manual Band of Mission Indians. The team entered the finishing circuits with four riders, including the yellow jersey Tyler Stites, who finished 11thon the stage securing the overall title for a third year. Brody McDonald was second on the line for Aevolo Cycling, followed by Tyler Williams in third once again for Denver Disruptors.

Brendan Rhim races to fourth victory for Project Echelon. Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

“The team was absolutely unbelievable; so strong!” Stites said. “We were always in control the whole day. I think we had four guys in the crit laps, something that I have never seen before from a leading team – to be able to defend the lead that well. It was a really good day, and then to come away with the stage is icing on the cake.”

The pro men started under looming rain clouds and dropping temperatures. It wasn’t long before the rain began, pelting the riders as they began their first loop around Sunset. There was an early time bonus and king of the mountain points available on the first of 12 laps on tap for the day.

A small break of three escaped shortly after, including Eder Frayre (Williams Racing Devo), Miles Hubbard (Voler Factory Racing), and Alan Schroeder (CS Velo). Hubbard had begun the day with only one point deficit in the KOM classification. He sprinted to the line to earn seven points as the first rider to cross, making him the virtual red jersey leader for the rest of the day.

“It was a really tight competition coming in, with four people within two points of each other,” Hubbard said. “We went for the early break; my teammates set me up super well going up the first climb on Sunset Loop. We ripped it up the climb, and came away with two other riders and we stuck it for about two hours. Luckily they were up there for other reasons, so I scooped up the majority of points throughout the day and locked down the red jersey.”

Teams had different objectives on the final day of competition, including defense of the Best Amatuer jersey, to sprint, and the KOM. Aevolo was defending the Best Amatuer competition with Quinn Felton in the lead, while fighting for a stage win for McDonald. Felton would secure the white jersey in the end. Ryan Gorman took enough points on the first two intermediate sprints to secure his green sprint jersey before calling it a day, riding in with the grupetto.

Stites had a healthy 43-second advantage ahead of Joe Laverick of Ribble Rebellion at the start of the day. Project Echelon hovered at the front of the field, driving the pace in defense, keeping the break within a safe distance despite there being no threat to the overall GC.

Their pace would soon absorb the trio just after the third KOM of the day. Up next was Reid Kinniburgth of TaG Cycling who tested his legs, escaping solo from the field. He would dangle off the front, gaining up to a 15” gap at one point, before he too was caught.

What was left of the field had dwindled down to just over 20 rider, all of which who would make it to the final downtown city circuits. Project Echelon held the advantage with four teammates, including the yellow jersey, in the front group.

Brendan Rhim was first to jump making the turn onto the circuit, launching an attack that would soon be countered by his teammate, Sam Boardman. They raced for 5 laps in total before Rhim would catapult to the line for the win.

“Tyler Stites joined some elite names in history today and he did it with an amazing team of people behind him. I couldn’t be more proud,” Project Echelon Director Sportif said at the finish. “We are a veteran, non-profit organization. Our mission is to educate and empower veterans and help them through physical activity. To connect with a community like Redlands and our veteran community back home is extremely important to us.”

The team had begun their season with a racing block overseas, competing against some of the best riders in the world, before arriving to Redlands.

“It makes a huge difference going overseas,” Stites said. “We were racing against the best riders in the world over in Europe, so it definitely ups our level to come back here and we’re able to show how strong we are.”

The pro men’s race wrapped another successful year for the Redlands Bicycle Classic organization. Mostly made up of volunteers, they put their time and hard work into allowing the race to return each year, celebrating the Redlands community, while hoping to inspire the next generation of pro cyclists.

Complete Pro Men’s Stage 5 Results

First – Brendan Rhim (Project Echelon Racing). Second (left) – Brody McDonald (Aevolo Cycling). Third (right) – Tyler Williams (Denver Disruptors). Photo: © Above Four Media
Tyler Stites (Project Echelon) in yellow. Photo: Above Four Media
Aevolo Cycling wins the overall Team Classification. Photo: © Above Four Media
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