Sometimes you get lucky on your first try, like 22 year-old Belgian Arne Bauters who scored one of his biggest wins at his first Les 3 Ballons cyclosportive in France on Sunday.
After a disappointing 2021 season, that saw him finish 87th at the Belgian U23 National Championship road race, Bauters (GRANFONDO TEAM BELGIUM) crossed the finish line atop the mythical Plance des Belles Filles solo, arms raised and grinning ear-to-ear. He completed the 178 kilometer race with over 4000 meters of elevation gain in 5:29:19
“The race was long and difficult,” Bauters told L’est Republicain news afterwards. “No one dared to attack. I tried at the Grand Ballon but we had to wait until the last three kilometers. This was played at a very high level. It was tough.”
Another Belgian, Frederic Glorieux, finished 10 seconds behind Bauters to take second place, with the Dutch rider Jordan Habits another 4 seconds back in third place.
Belgian Ils Van der Moeren won the women’s race, stopping the clock atop La Planche des Belles Filles in 6:09:33
The 93 kilometer medio fondo was won by Frenchman Alexandre Martin (3:00:12) for the men and the Dutch cyclist Laetitia Mouchet (3:29:44) for the women.
In a change from previous editions, the gran fondo started from Ronchamp and included ascents of: Le Service Ballon, Le Col d’Oderen, Le Markstein, the Grand Ballon, the Ballon d’Alsace and of course the finish on La Planche des Belles Filles, a short but painful climb ridden in the Tour de France with grades of more than 15%.
3600 cyclists from 20 nations participated in the event.
Complete Les 3 Ballons results HERE.
Photos: P. Lewis