Rabobank is not satisfied with its performance in the overall classification at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and is reverting its attention to stage results during the final three days. The event has passed the most challenging mountain stages and Laurens ten Dam predicts that the on slot of aggressive racing ahead will bode well for his chances to win a stage.
"We are not satisfied yet," ten Dam told Cyclingnews. "I think we have to go for stage wins now. The next days are a good chance for the sprinters. We don't have a sprinter so we are going to have to try and go in breakaways. If I am adapted to the altitude more, I know I can do well and I hope to show myself."
The team arrived to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge with high expectations for overall classification riders Robert Gesink and Stef Clement. Gesink placed eighth during stage one that finished atop Mt Crested Butte and moved into fifth place overall. He slid into eighth place following the 'queen' stage two that passed two significant ascents over Cottonwood and Independence Pass before finishing in Aspen. Gesink and Clement lost a handful of seconds in the overall classification to a breakaway of six riders.
"We expected the climbs to be much harder and nothing really happened on the climb yesterday," ten Dam said. "The break went on the downhill and that was not so nice for us, Robert expected to climb."
Clement put forth a strong stage three time trial in Vail, finishing the 16km uphill jaunt in fifth place behind stage winner and overall race leader Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo), Rafael Infantino (EPM-UNE) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo). He is now sitting in eighth place overall, 1:42 minute behind Leipheimer heading into the final three stages.
"I was mainly here to work for Robert Gesink and Stef Clement," ten Dam said. "I arrived two days before this race because I was racing in Europe and the altitude was affecting me a lot. I can feel it a lot, I am not in my normal shape, but I hope to feel better during the next days."
Tour de France crash forgotten
Video footage of ten Dam's face-first crash into the ditch during stage 15 at this year's Tour de France was seen around the world. More gruesome were the photos of his mangled and bandaged nose and lips as he proceeded to finish the race. According to ten Dam, after a few weeks at home he was able to fully recover and get back to training and racing. The crash is now a distant memory.
"I've been good and I have recovered pretty well," ten Dam said. "I did some racing in the Netherlands, I did San Sebastian and one week of training in southern France. I've been training and racing a lot since then and the crash from the Tour is almost forgotten by me now."
He is looking forward to the upcoming World Tour at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec City on September 9 and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal on September 11 in Canada. The two one-day classic style events are held on challenging courses and both include significant ascents. The events will cater to his style of racing, and that of his teammate Gesink, who won the event in Montreal last year.
"I think Colorado was a good preparation for the races in Canada," ten Dam said. "I would like to do well there and score some points. They are a goal for me. Being 10 days at altitude is good and I will go home before coming back to Canada. I hope to have some good races there. I hope to do a good result there or help Robert do a good result."
Although the Tour de France did not go according to plan for ten Dam, he has had a success this season that includes a fifth overall at the Tour Down Under, sixth overall at the Amgen Tour of California and eighth overall at the Tour de Suisse.
"The Tour de France was not that good for me," ten Dam said. "Before the Tour I was in good shape, but not good enough in my opinion, I wish I would have been better. That is life, that is racing. I got some good results already this year and it was nice to have that already booked."