Laurens ten Dam has called time on his career after 17 years as a professional. Il Lombardia, last weekend – where he finished 94th – was his final pro race, and he now says that he wants to turn his attention to adventure riding, and is aiming to do race such as the Dirty Kanza and the Cape Epic.
Writing on the CCC Team's website, Ten Dam recalled his career, which began in 2003 with the Rabobank Continental squad, and saw him ride for teams such as Unibet, Rabobank and Sunweb along the way, before joining CCC this season.
He twice finished in the top 10 at Grand Tours – taking eighth overall at the Vuelta a España in 2012 and ninth at the Tour de France in 2014 – and was part of his Sunweb teammate, compatriot and friend Tom Dumoulin's overall victory at the 2017 Giro d'Italia.
"My first Grand Tour was in 2008, so in my fifth year as a pro because, before that, I was racing for smaller teams who didn't do Grand Tours," Ten Dam wrote. "I didn't necessarily expect to ride the Tour de France when I turned pro, but things were on the rise for me and I was actually 21st in my first Tour.
"It was really nice to be racing in the big leagues and, from then on, the Tour was the race that I built my year around. My fame in Holland, and cycling in general, also started to grow from there because everyone was watching the Tour, and on several occasions I was the best Dutch rider there.
"The Tour de France is my favourite of the three Grand Tours. It was the race that I always watched as a small kid and it was my dream race. I reached Paris 10 times, finishing inside the top 10 on the GC in 2014, and I'm proud of that."
Ten Dam, who turns 39 in November, added that he'd enjoyed the process of gradually becoming one of the older, more experienced riders in the peloton.
"I clicked well with a lot of the younger CCC Team riders this year, and if they asked me questions, I always tried to answer them as well as possible," wrote Ten Dam. "I had similar relationships with Dumoulin at times, and other teammates like Sam Oomen [Sunweb] from that time.
"At Rabobank, however, I was more of an example than teaching through words because there I was much more focused on my performances.
"But it's nice to know that people see me as someone they want to learn from, someone to look up to and get advice from. I have also done a Master's degree in coaching so, while I'm not planning on doing anything like that next year, maybe there could be something there in the future.
"I still really like being on the bike and, in the days immediately following Il Lombardia, I will be making a big trip towards the south of Italy," Ten Dam wrote. "That will be an exciting moment for me as I will immediately be starting the change from pro cyclist to adventure rider.
"It's this kind of thing that I'm aiming to do in the future to replace professional cycling but fulfil my love for the bike. For example, I would like to do races like Dirty Kanza, Cape Epic, maybe a crazy bike-packing race. It'll be cool."
FEATURE: "I have no regrets. I have loved this life and job right up to the last minute. It's been a beautiful journey and I never thought it would be such a long one." - @laurenstendam 📝👉 https://t.co/CK7nRUlyPM#RideForMore 📷: @ChrisAuldPhoto pic.twitter.com/wOdb23XJLKOctober 16, 2019