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Laurens ten Dam goes off-road for The Alternative: Tour of Flanders

Ex-road pro Laurens ten Dam switched over to the world of gravel racing and adventure riding this year and has teamed up with Shimano to ride an alternative Tour of Flanders.

The Dutchman took part in the opening round of the Grasshopper Adventure Series in the USA back in January, finishing fifth in Low Gap. And before the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions came into force across Europe, he and Shimano made a film based around an alternative Flanders route.

Ten Dam was joined for the ride by fellow Live Fast Ride Slow podcaster Stefan Bolt and gravel adventurer Paul Errington.

Riding Shimano's GRX Di2 gravel-specific groupset, Ten Dam tackled the bergs and cobbles of Flanders, linking them up with whatever gravel and dirt routes they could find.

The trio started off in Oudenaarde, the finishing point for the Tour of Flanders, taking in a Gent-Wevelgem inspired route on day one which included the Kemmelberg and Ypres. On the second day of the trip, Ten Dam and his companions tackled the Koppenberg, Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg and plenty of off-road tracks before finishing back in Oudenaarde.

"Even as a pro I often used a gravel bike for training," said Ten Dam. "In 2016 I lived in Santa Cruz, California which is where I first got hooked.

"When I returned to Europe, I tried to find the same thrill and I often took my bike to places like the Belgian Ardennes or the Eifel region of Germany to explore the forests. At the time there weren't many other people doing it, but I fell in love with everything about that type of riding."

In the future, Ten Dam will be working with Shimano to make more video content and will also partner up with the company for his LTD Gravel Fest and LTD Gravel Raid events.

"These days there are so many more gravel products and gravel riding opportunities, from events to adventures on your doorstep," Ten Dam said. "For sure, gravel is gaining a great audience. I'm really excited about introducing as many people as possible to what a gravel adventure can be."

Check out the video above.