The Belgian Waffle Ride flag flew high over the grounds of Lake Kanuga in western North Carolina last weekend as the San Diego-based race promoter held its first bike race east of the Mississippi.
BWR Asheville, the second in the BWR Tripel Crown series, featured the event’s trademark three distances, as well as waffles at the start and beer at the finish. The courses featured a mixture of paved and off-road terrain in the spirit of a Belgian Spring Classic.
Sofia Gomez Villafañe won the women’s Waffle race, ahead of fellow pros Flavia Oliveira and Tiffany Cromwell. Ian Boswell outclimbed the men’s field on a steep paved ascent 10 miles from the finish.
1,500 riders participated across the three distances — Waffle, Wafer, and Wanna — of the inaugural Belgian Waffle Ride Asheville.
Race staff and volunteers put out hot waffles and coffee at 5:30 a.m. on race day.
Tiffany Cromwell of Canyon-SRAM placed third in the race, her second gravel event in a new 2021 calendar.
The Waffle course featured 65 percent paved and 35 percent off-road terrain. Turns were well-marked.
A group of elite men, including Ian Boswell, Russell Finsterwald, and Kerry Werner rode together the entire day until a steep paved climb shattered the group nearly 90 miles into the race.
Sofia Gomez Villafañe in a chase group. The Clif Pro Team mountain biker won the women’s race handily.
Heavy rains blanketed the region in the week leading up to the race, resulting in some last-minute route adjustments. Ultimately, the Waffle course was shortened by four miles and lost 400 feet.
Third-place finisher Brennan Wertz attempted an attack on the last gravel sector on the day.
Title sponsor Sierra Nevada provided plenty of off-the-bike options at the event venue, Kanuga Lake.
Live results were provided by the timing service OmniGo.
Flavia Oliveira took second on the day. The 39-year-old raced on a borrowed bike because hers was held up in transit.
Brennan Wertz signs a helmet while second-place rider Adam Roberge (Scuderia Pinarello) massaged an intense cramp at the finish line.
Heavy rain fell during the women’s podium presentation.
Big bottles of beer for the top five finishers which included Roberge, Boswell, and Wertz.
Riders persevered through heavy rains to complete the race and cross the finish line.