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Evenepoel to make gravel racing debut at Belgian Waffle Ride in Kansas

Giro dItalia 2021 104th Edition 11th stage Perugia Montalcino 162 km 19052021 Remco Evenepoel BEL Deceuninck QuickStep photo Ilario BiondiBettiniPhoto2021
Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) tackles the gravel on stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Organisers of the Belgian Waffle Ride gravel race series have announced that Deceueninck-QuickStep duo Remco Evenepoel and Mattia Cattaneo will be taking part in the Kansas event on October 31.

The race will be the first time either rider has tasted the world of gravel, a fast-growing discipline of cycling in recent years. The Kansas event is the fourth Belgian Waffle Ride of the year following races in San Diego, North Carolina, and Utah.

Evenepoel and Cattaneo will be among the riders at the event, although Cyclingnews understands that they will not be tackling the full-length 178-kilometre (111-mile) 'Wafer' course, which features 2,438 metres of elevation gain.

The pair will instead compete in one of the shorter 'Wafer' or 'Wanna' courses. The 'Wafer' is 124km (77mi) long and features 1,326m of elevation, while the 'Wanna' is 53km (33mi) long and features 457m of elevation.

Katerina Nash and ex-road pros Peter Stetina and Ian Boswell have won previous events this year, while Tiffany Cromwell and Ted King are among the other well-known names to have taken part in Belgian Waffle Rides in 2021.

Evenepoel's previous outing on gravel roads came on a road bike back at the Giro d'Italia in May. The 21-year-old, who was racing his 11th day since returning after his 2020 Il Lombardia crash, struggled on the strade bianche stage to Montalcino, losing over two minutes to his main GC rivals.

His and Cattaneo's decision to take on the gravel race is the latest move from road pros towards the gravel scene. Last week, the pro-only Serenissima Gravel event was held in northern Italy, with Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) taking a solo victory, beating Riccardo Minali (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and Nathan Haas (Cofidis) in a 134-kilometre race.

Elsewhere, EF Education-Nippo pair Lachlan Morton and Alex Howes often take part in gravel races as part of the team's 'alternative calendar', while several riders – including Stetina, Laurens ten Dam, and the retiring Kiel Reijnen – have made the switch to gravel after stopping their road careers.

The 'Hell of the Mid-West' Belgian Waffle Ride in Lawrence, Kansas runs from Friday, October 29 to Sunday, October 31, with the main race kicking off early on Sunday morning.

Editor's note: This article originally stated that Evenepoel and Cattaneo would be taking part in the full-length race.

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Daniel Ostanek

Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content on Cyclingnews and takes on live race text coverage throughout the season.

Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Tro-Bro Léon, Strade Bianche, and the Vuelta a España.