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During his long career on the World Tour, Laurens ten Dam became a fan favorite for a lot of reasons. For one, he was fast. Like top-10 at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España fast. But more than that, he was always one of the most likeable riders in the peloton, known for having time for fans and the press, and for never giving up, even after bad crashes. He was also a valued teammate and road captain, helping Tom Dumoulin to a memorable win at the Giro d’Italia in 2017. He was also an early adopter of social media – and one of the most followed athletes on Strava – allowing him to connect with a wide range of cycling fans all around the world.

Now he’s busy building a multi-faceted cycling empire, with a popular podcast in his native Holland, and forays into clothing and amateur gravel events. Oh, and he hasn’t stopped riding his bike really quickly either. He’s just doing it as a privateer these days, racking up the miles on and off pavement. So less retirement, more career pivot. Being away from pro racing allows more time for family and fun, two big parts of his life, and a style of riding that allows for some barbecue and a beer, and fits in well with his “Live slow, ride fast” philosophy.

He’s been a friend of inGamba since our earliest days. Regulars might have met him in Tuscany, or perhaps on the Coast Ride. You can read more about how he used to train for Grand Tours by visiting inGamba (and about the very unique way he first met our founder, João Correia) by checking out this post.

So when we heard he was coming to Tuscany with some friends, we had to throw open the Borgolecchi doors and show them all some proper inGamba-style hospitality. And once they’d had their fill, we caught up with Laurens for a chat.

How’s “retirement” treating you? You look as busy as ever! 

Man, you’re right! I’ve got a lot of boards to play at the moment. There’s no time for to think about the past. I’m still racing as a gravel rider, but because of Covid-19 it is on a low. I’ll start some multi-day endurance events soon though, so watch this space.

My clothing company is still in the start-up phase but going well. And my media company is keeping me really busy, it’s growing a lot through my podcasts and some YouTube films. On top of that, I am still editor-in-chief of Bicycling Magazine in the Netherlands. And I have my coffee brand and my two gravel events too! It’s been a tough year for the events for obvious reasons, but they’ll be back.

Tell us a little bit about the trip you took to Italy. 

We decided to cover the re-start of the pro racing season for my podcast. And to make it fun, we invited three journalists and ex-riders to come along with us, who are all famous for their love of Italy. It was a great chance for us all to enjoy the Italian culture of food and road racing. 

How did it feel to be back on the road after the last few months? 

It was nice to get out of the usual routine. I was at home so long – I don’t remember the last time I was in the same place for such a long time.

So the main event of your trip was the Strade Bianche. What do you think of it as a race? A lot of people think it deserves to be a monument, do you think it’s special?

Yeah, for sure. It is still a young race, it’s only been around since 2009, but I can assure you, it’s a special one for all the riders in the pro peloton. I still remember the years I was be able to compete. It’s amazing, there’s no race like it. The pro riders consider it a big classic. 

Is it strange to watch a bike race as a fan now?

Yes. It is a little strange, and I must admit I still have to get used to being a fan. And it feels awkward to be recognized while watching with everyone else. Because for me, it’s all about the current riders, I don’t want the attention. But when I’m there, I enjoy the show – especially when the racing is as good as it was at this year’s Strade.

You’ve ridden all over the world, but you’ve always been a fan of cycling in Tuscany. What makes it special for you? 

The roads there are like nowhere else on earth. It’s beautiful and quiet, and I love the short, steep climbs though the vineyards and fields. And of course, the white gravel roads.

The fact that there are no modern buildings, it has this ancient feeling that I love, especially on a road like the one up to Brolio, which is one of my favorites.

And what about our home at Borgolecchi? You’ve been there a lot over the years, is it nice to return to a place like that with so many familiar faces?

For sure, it’s my home away from home. I love being there. Everything else in life could collapse, and I know I could travel there and there would be people to take care of me. That is a very special feeling. 

Want more from Laurens? Check out LTD’s top tips for balancing cycling and the funner things in life. Or click here to find out more about our special Strade Bianche trip.

Colin O'Brien

Colin is an author and journalist from Ireland. He first met inGamba's founder João Correia back in 2013. João handed him a bidon full of Chianti Classico and took him to a three-course lunch. They've been friends ever since.