Photos from Gruber Images.
Laurens ten Dam expresses his feelings after a night of celebration in Paris. What’s next? More bike racing and even a potential Vuelta start. Relentless.
LTD Rider Journal: I’m tired. Wrecked. As usual, after the final day in Paris we stayed a little too late and had a little too much too drink, but right away the next thing starts so there’s no time to rest. Perhaps some people think that it’s over after the Champs-Élysées, but the next morning we have to pack up our stuff and drive straight to the criterium’s. When we arrived in Paris I was delighted; it was great to finish and see all the fans, and I was really happy to see my wife at the finish line, but at the same time it’s normal to be pissed off because it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. The results didn’t go my way, and that’s hard to accept after working so much and training so hard, but that’s sport.
Sometimes you’re the hammer, and sometimes you’re the nail. This year, I was the nail too much.
The atmosphere in Paris was amazing. The fans are always incredible – and I actually forgot about that crazy protester on the course until my wife reminded me. We just passed him thinking “what an asshole” and then forgot about him. At that stage, we’re just trying to hold the wheel in front so we don’t have too much time to think about anything else. But it’s ridiculous. I’m happy that he didn’t get too much attention; I don’t even know what he was complaining about. We were all really pleased at the finish we were enjoying the occasion, but I didn’t stay too late because at this stage in my career I know that it can take a few days to recover from that kind of thing and I’m focussed on the rest of my season now. Nothing too crazy, maybe a glass of wine too many and two Irish coffees instead of one, but I think at the end of a grand tour that’s allowed.
Now I’m off to the crits, and then after that some camping with my family. We packed the car so much that my boys couldn’t see each other in the back there was so much stuff. I’ll only do three crits this year, because it’s so dependent on how well you do at the Tour. It’s hard to explain what the crits are like: you go, you race your bike and then you go home. It’s pretty much self-supported, so I have my bike on the back of my car now. You don’t have mechanics or team cars.
The team was really happy with Robert Gesink’s sixth place – especially because there were so many big names ahead of him. To finish so high in the GC when you’re competing against the likes of Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador is huge, they’re the biggest names in the sport. All those guys have already won a grand tour, so to finish close to them was great. Against that kind of opposition, I think Robert can be really proud. Of course, we would have liked for me, Steven Kruijswijk and Wilco Kelderman to be better in the mountains, but like I said, that’s sport and things just didn’t go our way this year.
It’s not nice, or easy, but you have to accept how it goes and how your opponents perform. That’s sport.
It’s hard to say who was the most impressive at the Tour this year. Froome is the obvious choice, and he had an amazing team to support him the whole three weeks, but even he was fading towards the end. Peter Sagan was really imposing, he was always in the mix and he raced so hard every day. At the beginning, I was really surprised by Nibali and Contador because they’re such good riders, but grand tours are like that. It’s impossible to know beforehand. In the end, Nibali bounced back with an amazing win at La Toussuire, and I think Contador was just too tired after such a hard Giro d’Italia.
It’s hard for any rider to do two grand tours like that at the top level, but I don’t think I showed my best at the Tour so I’m looking forward to the Vuelta a España. Now I’ll take it easy for a while, maintain my form and then I’ll do the Tour de l’Ain before going to Spain. I think I’m good enough for a really solid result, but no one is able to say for sure before the first mountains. Three years ago I was eighth, but after the Tour the last two years I was totally cooked. This year I think LottoNL-Jumbo will go with a really young squad so I’m looking forward to it. We’re going to have a fun team.
If you missed the previous Tour updates from Lauren’s ten Dam, check out his first and second rest day recaps.