The eleventh edition of Belgian Waffle Ride California came down to a mix of professional road, mountain bike, cyclocross, and, yes, gravel racers.
Alexey Vermeulen, a former WorldTour rider with LottoNL-Jumbo, scored a big gravel win after a couple of seasons of knocking on the door.
- Alexey Vermeulen wins Belgian Waffle Ride after dropping Alex Howes
- Mo Wilson blasts the field to win Belgian Waffle Ride by 25 minutes over second place
- Belgian Waffle Ride ‘Dubbel’: Easton Overland’s Rob Britton, Caroline Dezendorf win day two
Vermeulen now races gravel, mountain bike, and road with the Jukebox team that also includes Ashton Lambie and Phil Gaimon.
Pro South African mountain biker Matt Beers was second, and American road professional Griffin Easter was third.
Enjoy the gallery of the men’s action at BWR California.
The Belgian Waffle Ride kicked off with a mass start at 7:30 a.m. Vermeulen finished in six hours and 34 minutes. The last of 900 riders finished in 13 hours and minutes.
Riders rolled off the start in San Marcos, California.
Elite Cycling provided neutral support on course.
Multi-time national champion Rahsaan Bahati had a front-line start, and came in to the finish with BMX pro Andrew Jackson.
Two-time winner Pete Stetina was often on the front early.
The second dirt sector of the day, Havensquestberg, strung out and temporarily split the front group.
National cyclocross champion Eric Brunner made the select group of seven that formed at the race’s decisive halfway point.
Sandy Floren drove the group early.
Stetina on the Havensquestberg.
Alexey Vermeulen rode inside the front group for the first half, then started pushing the pace at the halfway point.
Early in the day, splits caused on the dirt were welded back together on the pavement. That regrouping wasn’t long lived, though.
Matt Beers (Toyota-Specialized) won the 2021 Cape Epic with Jordan Sarrou, and also took second in the South African national time trial that year.
Floren on the front.
Griffin Easter (EpiCure Foundation-Orange Seal) kept himself in the lead group all day.
Howes chases back to the lead group early in the day.
A group of about 15 rode together for the second quarter of the race, including Jeremiah Bishop.
BWR featured 10 feed zones with bottle and gel hand ups. Also, the lead group had the advantage of getting bottle feeds from the lead vehicle.
Beers on the Pamoberg, a steep hill that dispatched Floren, turning the group of seven to six.
Howes looked comfortable for the majority of the day — until Vermeulen attacked.
Vermeulen in flight after dropping the other five riders in the lead group.
Howes was in hot pursuit and caught Vermeulen, and was able to cling on for a few miles, but was ultimately dropped.
Vermeulen drove to the finish alone after shedding Howes for the second and final time.
The closing miles of the race included a 22-percent pitch up to the race’s high point.
Vermeulen came across the line in front of Draft Republic in San Marcos.
Beers and Easter came across for second and third.
And Howes, who was caught by Beers and Easter in the closing miles, finished fourth.
Vermeulen put in the training and the recon to win, and it paid off.
Easter and Beers were happy to make the podium.
Vermeulen sat on the concrete, just past the finish, and was quickly mobbed.