The sun began to rise, painting the sky with hues of gold and pink, as cyclists geared up for an exhilarating day in Lawrence, Kansas. The Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR) was set to unfold, a challenging 197 km/122 miles Waffle course through the undulating Kansas hills.
As the race commenced, the peloton quickly felt the relentless 16 mph (7 m/s) north wind, a constant companion throughout the day. The road was already alive with aggression, riders vying for position and the chance to conquer the Kansas hills.
Among the contenders was Torbjørn Røed, a strong Norwegian rider studying at Colorado Mesa University, and last year's BWR Kansas winner, Adam Roberge. The pace was set by former World Tour-pro Nicholas Roche and Brennan Johnston. Soon, a breakaway group formed, showcasing the race's aggressive nature.
Luke Hall led the breakaway, setting an aggressive tone for the race. The peloton of around 25 riders was split into those attacking and others, reluctant to fully commit to the chase. Conservation of energy was key, especially for those facing lingering effects of a recent cold.
The Perry Lake Trail, a 7 km technical section, presented a unique challenge. Narrow trails through the woods demanded precise maneuvering and quick decision-making. Riders grappled with rocky sections and occasionally had to dismount, navigating through the challenging terrain.
However, Jonas Orset, a determined rider, faced an unexpected obstacle—a stick lodged between his front wheel and fork. Despite this setback, he showcased his resilience and pressed on, alone in the woods with 110 km/68 miles still ahead.
As the race progressed, the wind remained an unyielding adversary, and riders fought together, forming a cohesive chase group. They tackled demanding climbs and persisted, pushing through the fatigue induced by nearly 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) of elevation on gravel roads.
Approaching the finish, the chase group spotted Ian Lopez De San Roman, providing the motivation needed to make a final push. The race culminated in a 10-mile (16 km) single track, adding a unique touch to the gravel adventure.
In the end, Torbjørn Røed emerged triumphant, clinching victory for the Norwegians in Kansas. Jonas Orset secured a commendable 10th place, an impressive accomplishment in the challenging BWR series. The race was a true test of grit, determination, and camaraderie among riders from diverse backgrounds.
Despite the challenges faced, the true spirit of the event was captured in the finish line celebrations and the camaraderie among riders—making memories and bonding over a shared passion for cycling.
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