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Laurens ten Dam traded the brief and damp days of the Netherlands for the dry and temperate circumstances discovered alongside South America’s equator this week, to return to the Transcordilleras Rally Colombia.
In what he referred to as a “sufferfest”, this mixed-terrain, self-supported journey crosses the three imposing mountain ranges in Colombia, with a complete of eight phases that add as much as 852 kilometres and 21,000 metres of elevation acquire.
Final 12 months’s second version noticed Stetina ‘win’ three phases and the general bragging rights, with Ten Dam tallying two stage victories and Dekker one. A pair of Colombian riders, Brayan Chaves Rubio and Antonio Donado Calle every received a stage and completed within the high 5, although hours quite than minutes separated the challengers from the leaders.
“Along with Thomas Dekker, two Dutch buddies determined they needed to do it after final 12 months’s sufferfest, and I informed them they may endure the identical,” Ten Dam informed Cyclingnews, a light-weight chuckle accompanying the reference to his buddies, Willem Schellens and Frank Epskamp.
They may be part of within the race throughout Colombia, which organisers name “essentially the most geographically advanced nation on the planet and one of the vital biodiverse”.
This elective week of struggling for a complete of roughly 60 riders comes with perks, nonetheless, together with a GPS gadget with reside monitoring and in a single day lodging every evening. Challenges, apart from the vicious terrain, embody carrying all provides, cleansing gear and making meals. There’s a quicker choice to cross the nation, however the continuous bikepacking class is a relentless beat-down effort that attracted solely 12 entrants final 12 months and 15 this 12 months.
There could also be a clock concerned with the stage ‘race’, however it’s extra concerning the journey. The route is totally completely different this 12 months, shifting west to east quite than with the solar, and so have been the preparations for Ten Dam. Final 12 months he spend 10 days previous to Transcordilleras with a number of Jumbo-Visma riders at an altitude coaching camp in Colombia.
“When it comes to coaching, I did it a lot completely different. Final 12 months I went to coaching camp earlier than along with [Tom] Dumoulin after which went dwelling for per week and got here again to race. This 12 months I simply got here in per week earlier than the race,” mentioned the previous 18-year Dutch street professional who made his title on gravel with a runner-up end at Unbound Gravel in 2021.
Two weeks in the past Ten Dam and Dekker accomplished a bikepack race on the Canary Islands, the Gran Guanche endurance occasion, which Ten Dam received. The duo lined the 600 kilometres and 14,000 metres of elevation acquire throughout 5 of the Canary Islands in 36 hours.
Dekker, who completed his professional street profession in 2015 and now additionally does his share of gravel racing, together with his first Unbound Gravel final 12 months, mentioned on Instagram the in a single day journey “was for despising, fortunately Laurens ten Dam was there to tug me by the evening.”
That occasion used 4 ferry crossings to finish the island hopping.
“Since then I solely did two coaching rides as a result of I used to be drained from the bikepack race and once I arrived [Sunday in Colombia] I used to be a little bit bit below the climate, so I’m simply chilling right here in Medellin and enjoyable earlier than this race,” Ten Dam added.
This 12 months the problem begins February 12 within the south-west Valle del Cauca at Calí, and can transfer north-east of Bogotá to Guasca, with the three closing days throughout the jap Cordilleras presenting greater than 40% of the climbing.
Stage 7 is the queen stage by the jap Cordillera and crosses one of many highest peaks, Sumapaz, with an elevation topping out at 4,000 metres above sea degree.
Due to Colombia’s location on the northern fringe of the equator, the nation’s numerous landscapes have excessive microclimates primarily based on elevation, not conventional seasons, so riders face excessive fluctuations with warmth, chilly and humidity in the identical week. Final 12 months a bit of street was worn out by a landslide and a neighborhood bulldozer used its loader bucket to maneuver riders and bicycles throughout the gaping gap.
Sunday’s opening stage climbs instantly from the beginning in Calí and covers 103km with 50% gravel within the Valle del Cauca mountains on the jap slope of the western Cordillera.
Transcordilleras Rally Colombia 2023 phases
- Stage 1 – February 12 Calí to Calima, 103km, 2,900m elevation acquire, 50% gravel
- Stage 2 – February 13 Calima to Sevilla, 143km, 2,000m elevation acquire, 30% gravel
- Stage 3 – February 14 Sevilla to Salento, 100km, 3,500m elevation acquire, 30% gravel
- Stage 4 – February 15 Salento to Ibagué, 109km, 3,200m elevation acquire, 90% gravel
- Stage 5 – February 16 Ibagué to Melgar, 127km, 700m elevation acquire, 60% gravel
- Stage 6 – February 17 Melgar to Fusagasugá, 65km, 2,700m elevation acquire, 30% gravel
- Stage 7 – February 18 Fusagasugá to Choachí, 133km, 4,000m elevation acquire, 50% gravel
- Stage 8 – February 19 Choachí to Guasca, 53km, 1,800m elevation acquire, 90% gravel