In May 2015, Brendan Rhim, a 19-year-old from Norwich, Vt., put the cycling world on notice at the Collegiate Nationals in North Carolina. With 40 miles to go, the Furman College freshman attacked on the first major hill on the course, took the lead and finished alone, the pack far behind. A day later, he won the criterium, then helped his team win the time trials and sweep the Division II nationals. It was the first time any college team has swept all disciplines.
That wasn’t the only national victory for Rhim, who was recruited to be part of the California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized development team. In April, he surprised the top racers in the country by beating them at California’s Redlands Bicycle Classic, the biggest win of his career. In May, Rhim returned home to win the King of the Mountain title at the Killington Stage Race with his Cal Giant teammate and fellow Vermonter Ansel Dickey right next to him on the podium.
That was an especially sweet victory for Rhim who grew up training with coach Peter Vollers and the Killington Mountain School’s cycling team. As a junior and a student at Hanover High School, he’d won the Killington Stage Race at 16 and in 2012 went on to win the criterium in the Junior Nationals. After that win Furman Coach Rusty Miller began recruiting Rhim.
“Beyond his physical gifts, it’s his demeanor that will see him to the top of the sport,” Miller told Velo News after the Collegiate Nationals victory. “In the race he will rip off your head and stomp on your skull, but before and after that he’s grinning like the Buddha, unperturbed by anything. I have never seen an athlete with such control of his competitive streak, much less in one who is still a teenager. His calm presence keeps the whole team at ease.”
That calm will do Rhim well as he heads into the 2016 season with Cal Giant and sets his eye on joining the Pro Continental team as well.