Words by Laurens ten Dam, Photos by Jered and Ashley Gruber.
A lot of people might think that we go on holiday after the Tour de France – but it’s the total opposite. It’s a crazy busy time for a lot of riders. I’ve had five crits: Boxmeer, Tiel, Roosendaal, Maastricht and Wilrijk. So I’ve spent the last week just sprinting out of corners! Some days the pace is really fast, and you suffer from the start.
That’s Crit Life. But it’s a good way for riders to make money, and it’s great to see all the fans. It’s also a lot different to the US crit scene. The races I did in America earlier in the season were awesome, but this is a different world. In the US, it always starts fast from the gun, but they can fade a bit towards the end. With a starting grid full of World Tour pros, the final is fast. Really fast.
The fans make a big difference too and it’s nice that people still like cycling so much. The crowds everywhere have been really big. The Dutch riders all had a good Tour, so the public has all be out in Holland to support us and cheer us on.
Personally, I wasn’t so happy with how I performed in the Alps. That’s life.
Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. We could have done better in the GC with Warren Barguil, but he had some difficulties. He’s young though, and showed great character in the way he bounced back. In the mountains, I really wanted to show how good I can be and give my best, but I didn’t feel great earlier in the race and I had some stomach problems at the worst time.
It’s impossible to do well on big climbs when you can’t eat properly.
We had a lot of potential in the mountains and I was sure that Warren would be able to go for a stage win, but it just didn’t work out. Luckily, the team won two stages with Tom Dumoulin, so we were happy for that and overall we had a good race.
Restarting right after Paris was hard. I did the Clásica de San Sebastián the next weekend with a really bad cold. When I got home both of my kids were sick, and because your immune system is totally wrecked after a grand tour, it was bound to happen. That was disappointing, but now I’m just looking forward to my last two road races of the season, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal. I hope I can be in top shape in Canada.
After that, I’m looking forward to some mountain biking. It’s a big change from road racing – especially because the family is all going back to the US and we’ll be there until Spring. I can’t wait to be all together again, and the boys are really happy about going back to America, they already feel at home there.
It’ll be cool to get involved in the Californian cycling scene a bit more and I’m really excited for the Leadville 100. It should be a lot of fun because I’ll be with the crew from World Bicycle Relief, and my friend Ted King will be there too. That’s an incredible event and it’s all for a good cause. Leadville has been a longtime Bucket List event for me and it should be an adventure – but I don’t expect to win. Right after I arrive from Europe, we’ll drive 1,200 miles to get there. I’ll be driving there with my wife and kids.
It’s my first mountain bike race, I have no clue about gearing or changing tubeless tyres, and the nutrition side of things is different as well.
There are a lot of variables, but that’s part of the attraction. It’ll be a great experience and I’ll give it my best shot.
Now that the main part of my season is over, I can chill out a little bit, but I’ll still be focused on my training and staying in shape ahead of next year. It’s easy for me to stay in good shape in California. There’s a lot of great riding, I love to go mountain biking and Giant set me up with a cyclocross bike there too so hopefully I’ll do some races with that in the winter. It’s a different style of training to a lot of pro riders, but it works for me because it’s fun and it keeps me excited about cycling.