After an 11-year career in the WorldTour spanning teams such as Rabobank and Sunweb, 2019 saw Laurens ten Dam hang up his road wheels in favour of something a little wider and a lot wilder. Like Ted King and Peter Stetina before him, Ten Dam turned towards the beard-growing, beer-drinking, dishevelled world of gravel racing.
The gravel scene is ever-evolving and continually redefining itself. Its very roots go back to exploration, adventure and going off the beaten path, and in times of pandemic and the subsequent upheaval of a social norm, the metaphorical gravel pathway is blocked. Mass-start events are a no go, and as a result, gravel looks set to redefine itself once again.
This Saturday, May 30th, was set to be Ten Dam's first-ever attempt at Dirty Kanza. Its postponement put paid to that, so in its place, the Dutchman has created Dirty Kanzelled; a create-your-own gravel ride of either 100 or 200 miles that anyone can get involved in, wherever in the world they may be. This comes alongside Rebecca Rusch's Giddy Up Challenge, a four-tiered climbing challenge from a quarter- to a full-Everest; and Ted King's #DIYGravel, motivating riders to partake in his race calendar, at least in distance.
As gravel looks to solo challenges and epic adventures as its new - if temporary - identity, Specialized's launch of the 2021 Diverge came with a striking parallel. Alongside the Diverge came the Diverge Evo, a flat-bar gravel bike that pushes the envelope of what exactly a gravel bike is, and gives the gravel scene yet another identity to consider. The Evo takes gravel and makes it rowdier, creating another subdivision of a category that is yet to - and probably never will - settle on a single niche.
The drop-bar version, however, is what Ten Dam calls his own. It is one of the best gravel bikes we've tested, being awarded five stars in our tech editor's recent Specialized Diverge review, and ahead of his Dirty Kanzelled ride this weekend, Ten Dam shared images of his bike with Cyclingnews.
The bikepacking setup takes advantage of the GRX 2X chainset paired with a smaller-range cassette, as well as Specialized's Terra CLX gravel wheels, Shimano XTR SPD pedals, Lezyne lights and Pro's range of gravel products such as the top tube bag and bar tape.
Laurens ten Dam's Specialized 2021 Diverge full bike specifications
- Frameset: Specialized Diverge Carbon 2021
- Front brake: Shimano GRX Hydraulic Disc caliper
- Rear brake: Shimano GRX Hydraulic Disc caliper
- Brake/shift levers: Shimano GRX 815 Di2
- Front derailleur: Shimano GRX 815 Di2
- Rear derailleur: Shimano GRX 815 Di2
- Cassette: Shimano Ultegra R8000 / Shimano Deore XT M8000
- Chain: Shimano CN-HG701
- Crankset: Shimano GRX 2X / GRX 1X
- Wheelset: Roval Terra CLX / Roval C38
- Bar Tape: PRO Gravel Comfort
- Tyres: Specialized Pathfinder
- Handlebars: Pro Discover carbon
- Stem: Specialized Future stem
- Saddle: Pro Stealth Offroad
- Seat post: Pro Discover
- Bottle cages: PRO PC Cage
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