Words by Laurens ten Dam, Photos by Jered and Ashley Gruber.
Sometimes at a Grand Tour, you’re too tired to sleep. The night before the first rest day was one of those nights for me. It was probably all the temperature changes during the stage and the hail plus all those kilometres in the legs. I kept waking up every couple of hours. Then we had a busy day with the new sponsor announcement, so there wasn’t a whole lot of time to relax.
But it’s ok; it’s been a good Tour so far, I’m feeling great, everyone in the team is happy with Tom Dumoulin’s win and with the new sponsor for 2017. Sunweb is a travel company, which is cool, because it’s a big part of my life and it’s nice to be linked with a company like that. There’s a good atmosphere and we’re all looking forward to the next week.
The first nine stages were tough – I’m pretty sure we did more racing time on the bike than I’ve done my whole career.
A lot of kilometres and a lot of hours. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we had 18 hours in total, other days were all more than five hours so it’s a lot, especially with the heat. But that’s what I like, it’s the Tour and it’s supposed to be a hard race.
The last few days in the Pyrenees were really good. I’m at the level I wanted to be and I was there to help Warren Barguil, so I was happy because on Stage 5 I felt a little bit bellow par. And Tom’s win on Stage 9 was amazing for all of us – it’s really given the whole team a boost.
Laurens after stage 9
It was a little bit of a surprise because he wasn’t feeling so good in the first few stages, but he started to grow into the race and you could see he was improving. He did an amazing job. I actually told him and one of the coaches that morning that he was going to go well because I could see how enthusiastic he was at breakfast, eating lots and full of energy.
We train together a lot – almost every day when I’m in Maastricht. In between California and the Tour de Suisse I was there for a day and we caught up for a ride and had some fun. It’s awesome to see a good friend win like that. And incredible for everyone’s morale because this year not so many teams have won a stage yet because of Dimension Data! The timing couldn’t be better because the bosses and the new sponsors were all there at the finish line. It’s great for us.
This week we have a lot to look forward to. We’ll be trying again in the sprint with John Degenkolb and Warren is still up there in GC so we have to keep him there. With guys like Simon Geschke we can try for more stage wins, and Tom has a great chance in the time trial. Hopefully he can take it a bit easy on the Ventoux because I’ll be there to help Warren! I still think I have a little bit more to give. I had my best form at the Tour of California but I don’t think I’m far off that now, in terms of watts, but here I’m up against the best in the world and I’m hoping that my very best can come in the third week.
The top 10 is really close and I think it’s going to be an exciting Tour.
I’m happy to be part of that. And I’m really happy that all my training seems to be paying off because some people questioned my motives when I moved to the US to spend more time with my family. They said I was going on holiday, but if you’ve been on holiday all year you’re not going to be one of 25 guys in the group when a grand tour hits the mountains. If you’re still there you’ve been working hard because this is the highest level of our sport.