Laurens ten Dam and João Correia were friends long before inGamba. As professional bike racers, they met at the 2010 Tour de Suisse, but not like you’d expect, chatting at the start-line, or in a quiet moment, mid stage, while the peloton casually rolled en masse through the Swiss countryside. No, that would be too boring. The pair’s first encounter came when João went careering, at high speed, into the back of an ambulance, only to find the Dutchman already inside, on the stretcher, getting treatment. Never let it be said that the boss doesn’t know how to make an entrance.
They’ve been close ever since, and when his schedule allows, Laurens is a regular fixture around inGamba’s home base in Tuscany. Now a bona fide veteran of the professional peloton, he’s been racing at the highest level of cycling for more than a decade, and as well as being a top-10 finisher at both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, the Dutchman was a key member of Tom Dumoulin’s winning Team Sunweb squad at this year’s 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia. Put simply, the guy knows what he’s doing.
Before the Giro, he supplemented the team’s training camps with some solo time in Chianti. After all, there’s no shortage of great roads to ride, there’s no traffic, the weather is always pleasant enough, even in early spring, and there’s a crew of experienced mechanics hanging out down at the service course.
The other great thing about hanging out with inGamba, he says, is that over the years, it’s started to feel like home. He can spend time in a friendly setting and chill out, away from the pressures of the pro world, while still getting the miles in and eating well. That leaves him unstressed and well-trained, the perfect combination for the road captain of a team taking aim at one of cycling’s greatest prizes.
“I was in Lecchi earlier this season before the Giro, and I just thought that the inGamba treatment in the mountains would be good too!” says the 36-year-old, with a laugh. “I was really happy in Corvara. They treated me really well and it was exactly what I needed before the Tour.
“Bruno and Benji were there to take care of me, everyone at Hotel La Perla was super nice, and it was great having the restaurants, the spa, and everything there when I needed it.
“It was hard to say no to all the food and wine though! I can’t eat pie for breakfast before a grand tour. With some luck I’ll come back in August, and I can eat it all then. I actually promised the kids we’d come back together because they want pie for breakfast too!
“Mathias, one of the owners, was really good to me in L’Murin [One of La Perla’s restaurants, much loved for its rich local dishes and its informal atmosphere] and the big portions were just what I needed after training.”
“It’s been an incredible season for us so far,” continues Ten Dam. “But I still hope to do a really great Tour. After that, I’ll do the Clásica de San Sebastián and Il Lombardia, but not too much.
“We won the Giro with Tom, so the pressure is off a little. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but we’ll see later in the Tour. This is a great team with really professional riders, so I think when the race gets serious we’ll be ready to work hard. I know that I’m in great shape, anyway, so I have to say thanks to inGamba for being a part of that. I hope to come back soon!”
InGamba’s self-guided packages in the Dolomites start from $1,795, including room and half board, a Pinarello F10 for the duration, a custom Giordana kit, and the option to either join a daily guided ride, with full team car support, or do your own thing. For more about our guided trips in the Dolomites, check out the destination page.
All photographs © Andy Astfalck