Laurens ten Dam is considered by most to be in the small group of top contenders to win the overall Amgen Tour of California this week, but the Dutchman is playing down the possibility. With 2012 race champion, Robert Gesink, out with heart issues, Ten Dam will be leading Belkin Pro Cycling this week on the 720-mile route from Sacramento to Thousand Oaks.
“There’s a little bit of doubt, of course,” said Ten Dam. “So far, my season has not been that good, but I hope to start going really good now. All the pieces are there, but they just have to fit in.”
Ten Dam, who has achieved top ten finishes in numerous races, including an 8th place finish at the Vuelta a Espana in 2012, is known for his tenacity and sheer determination on mountain ascents.
Ten Dam is personally ready for this year’s Mt Hamilton and Mt Diablo climbs on Stage 3 and the Mountain High finish of Stage 6, and he believes young sprinter, Moreno Hofland should do well in Stage 1 and Stage 4, both of which are probable sprint finishes
“I am a climber, so Mountain High and Diablo are my stages. I hope not to do too bad in the time trial and then we’ll see. Moreno should do well in the sprints. Stage 4 should be perfect for him.”
Ten Dam continued, “Robert Gesink had a minor heart problem. He is doing well. He’s been operated on and doing really well. Of course, he is a really big star and a great rider and otherwise, I would be here in support of him. If he was here, the team would be a lot stronger. But, that is the case and sometimes you get injuries.”
Post race training like Rocky Balboa
Following the race, Ten Dam plans to spend some time near Lake Tahoe for some altitude training and a bit of fishing.
“I want to do a lot of training, a little bit Rocky Balboa style on my own, not with the team, just some real training. In the afternoon, I’ll try to catch some fish in the lake and maybe have a nice barbecue. It’s more or less based on really focusing on the next goal of the season.
It’s nice to be in a great area over there. Truckee is nearby, so I can go down for a coffee or a breakfast and enjoy my time in the U.S. for the month.”
Suffering and Jens Voigt
Amgen Tour of California asked the Twitterverse earlier this week:
Ten Dam took it all in good stride. “We were here for four days to get ready, so we had time enough to enjoy ourselves. Jens and I talked to each other and he said, ‘We were really suffering at that time.’
Jens is a good example for me. I am 33 and he is 42 or something and maybe I can stick around for a few more years and be the new Jens Voigt in the future.”
Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California 2014 kicks off on Sunday at 10:50 in Sacramento with a 120-mile race in and around the Sacramento area. The Belkin team will consist of Laurens Ten Dam, Jack Bobridge, Lars Boom, Moreno Hofland, Thomas Leezer, Nick Van Der Lijke, Dennis Van Winden and Maarten Wynants.
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