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Specialized is bringing a posse to the gravel of Lawrence, where Belgian Waffle Ride Kansas kicks off Sunday. Five Deceuninck-Quick-Step riders are on the start list, including Remco Evenepoel and Mattia Cattaneo, who are both registered for the shorter ‘Wafer’ event. Specialized also has four employees on the start list: Scott Jackson and former pro Gian Paolo Mondini — both of Specialized Racing — plus Stewart Thompson and John Keller, who was third at Big Sugar Gravel last weekend after winning The ’Rad earlier this fall.
Race favorites on the start list include Adam Roberge, winner of the Belgian Waffle Ride Triple Crown, for the best overall performance across BWR San Diego, Utah, and North Carolina. Roberge just won Big Sugar Gravel last weekend. Brennan Wertz of California was second in the Triple Crown, and 10th at Unbound Gravel this year.
There is a smattering of UCI pros on the start list as well, including Chris Schroeder (ATAQ-Lauf), Alex Hoehn (Wildlife Generation), Joseph Schmalz (Steve Tilford Foundation Racing), Coulton Hartrich (Manzur), and Ethan Overson (Cinch).
Two other notable names in the men’s race: Scott Moninger, who won more than 275 races in his 17 years as a pro, and Floyd Landis, who just took his first gravel start last weekend at Big Sugar.
In the women’s field, Flavia Oliveira (Excel Sports), Hannah Shell (Kask/Cervélo/Shimano), Tarah Cole-Freter (Team CWA), and Amy Borkowski (KCOI/BLVD) are on the start list along with UCI pros Tiffany Cromwell, Danielle Larson, and Angela Naeth.
The Australian Cromwell, a Tokyo Olympian who raced the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes, has already hopped into a few American gravel races this year.
It is raining today in Lawrence, but Sunday’s forecast calls for cool and dry conditions.
The 111-mile Waffle course features 6,350 feet of climbing and is 14-percent paved. Along with a few water crossings and a variety of gravel surfaces, BWR Kansas also features a 6.5-mile section that promoter Michael Marckx is calling both a cyclocross sector and the definitive feature of the course. It comes at about the 90-mile point.