Photos from Team Belkin.

Although it would be amazing to be on the ground in France for the Tour, most of us follow the action on TV or online in varying hours of the day. Fortunately, a growing number of Pros are also sharing their activity on Strava, providing one more view into each stage of the race. Athletes like Ted King, Niki Terpstra, Thibaut Pinot, Lars Boom and Laurens Ten Dam showcase their almost inhuman daily efforts, along with some very human emotions.

Laurens Ten Dam (LTD), the most followed athlete on Strava, just climbed his way in to the top ten in the GC. The Team Belkin rider had a subdued start to the Tour due to illness, but he has found his form after a few fierce days in the mountains. We had the chance to catch up with him on the final rest day and see what was going through his mind as he neared Paris.

What has been your main role this Tour?

We have a similar approach to the race on our team as last year. Bauke Mollema and I would be the protected riders for the race. Bauke finished in the top 10 last year and me 13th so the plan is always for the team to look after us and keep us fresh for the climbs.

What’s been the best stage this year from a personal point of view?

Friday and Saturday in the Alps have been good for me. I started the race a little sick, which isn’t ideal, and was worried about how I would go in the mountains. My legs have started coming around so I thought I would attack and give it a good go. It feels good to be in the top 10 on GC now.

How does it affect the team when you have a big win like Lars Boom’s on the pavé of Stage 5?

It’s always great for morale to win a stage so early in the race but it’s more special when it’s on such an unforgettable stage too. From the team’s point of view it’s good to win at the Tour when looking for a sponsor and Lars is a great guy and deserved it. That stage is one that no rider will forget in a hurry.

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Do you think this year’s “medium mountain” stages have made the race tougher and less predictable?

Yes, the Vosges are always more important than they seem on paper. I was happy to get them behind me because something always happens there. With this race you have to focus on each day and you can’t lose concentration at any time.

The Vosges are unforgiving: if you have bad luck there it’s hard to come back from it.

Which do you prefer – Alps or Pyrenees?

It’s hard to say but I have survived the Alps well now. Last year I started slipping back in the race a little bit in the last week. We have the Pyrenees in the last week to come and I hope the same won’t happen again. Can I answer that after the race?

What Strava Climb are you most proud of?

Mt. Ventoux.

On a hard day in the saddle, what is your favorite thing out of the feed bag?

Snickers. If they put that in, I am happy.

How important is food in a stage race like this?

It’s fuel for the body. You don’t throw diesel in a formula one car. If there is a big buffet, you cannot eat all the shit because you have to race. I eat good meat and fish, and fresh baked bread if I can.

What’s your favorite part of the recovery process?

First I have to upload to Strava. Then a massage is always nice.

After such a grueling schedule how do you acclimatize back to post-Tour life?  

It will be great to see the family and have a BBQ. The Tour is a long race and when you’re inside that bubble it’s hard to look to anything else from normal life – but when you walk through the front door at home, you know it’s over and it’s always good to be home again.

Big thanks to LTD for taking the time to share his thoughts with us before the final stages of the Tour. Be sure to follow his activity and check out the final stage routes on the Tour de France.