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Belgian star Remco Evenepoel and his Deceuninck-Quick-Step teammate Mattia Cattaneo rode the 70-mile ‘Wafer’ event at Belgian Waffle Ride Kansas on Sunday, along with former pro Gian Paolo Mondini of Specialized Racing. The main ‘Waffle’ event was 111 miles.
Specialized flew Evenepoel and Cattaneo in to Kansas to shoot a video.
Fresh off planes from Europe, the Quick-Step riders huddled around heaters before the chilly, early morning start of BWR Kansas, and then took a front-row start to lead out the ride.
“It’s our first real gravel experience. We are just here to enjoy,” Evenepoel said before the start. “We are both in the off-season, so we are not really in the racing mood. We are just trying to enjoy the area, and get to know a new place. I think we are going to take this day as an unforgettable journey.”
Evenepoel, Cattaneo, and Mondini motored the Wafer group along for the first few miles until mechanicals forced them to pull over.
The trio quickly cruised their way back up to the front group of the 70-mile race, and proceeded to calmly set a tempo that whittled it down to seven riders.
With pit stops for video and snacks, and clearly riding with a casual attitude, Mondini, Evenepoel, and Cattaneo finished fifth, sixth and eighth, respectively.
Molly Cameron won the Wafer race. The author was second, and Scott Moninger was third.
In addition to dozens of miles of rolling gravel roads, BWR Kansas also included miles of singletrack and a cyclocross course. Evenepoel said he enjoyed having some variation in the course, instead of just miles of straight roads.
After the race, Evenepoel took time to pose for pictures and sign autographs and handed off a water bottle to a young fan.
“This year we are here to enjoy,” he said. “Maybe next year we will come back to race.”