The fascination of this place
is not about what there is
but about what is missing.

This is not a cliché.

June 2017

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Wednesday,
28 June 2017

Laurens Ten Dam, the bohémien cyclist

Smiling, helpful, courteous: a pleasure to have guests like him here at La Perla. Keeping up the wheel? It's tough, even for our InGamba guys.
Ten Dam is known as a climber, even though he comes from a country that has no mountains. His idol is Gert-Jan Theunisse, another Dutch rider who was strong going uphill.
Laurens Ten Dam is a Dutch cyclist, tall, slim and with curly hair. He has a bit of a bohémien look to him, perhaps it is the beard he has which makes him seem hippyish, as if from some summer of love. Coincidentally, he lives in California and when he can he loves nothing more than going around with all his family in a Volkswagen California. He is a happy soul, always smiling. Ten Dam is known as a climber, even though he comes from a country that has no mountains. His idol is Gert-Jan Theunisse, another Dutch rider who was strong going uphill. Laurens remembers him and the moment he discovered him: he was with his father, mother and brothers, and they had set off by camper to see the famous Alpe d’Huez leg of the Tour in 1989: that day, whilst Fignon and Le Mond tracked each other’s every move, Theunisse broke away and led the others home, raising his arms aloft as winner of one of the most prestigious race climbs that there is. A Dutch rider winning at Alpe d’Huez is a feat to remember, and one which lasts long in the mind of a watching child. I tell of all this because we have the fortune to have Laurens here as a guest in the hotel for a few days. On asking him what he thinks of the Dolomites his eyes light up and he praises them enthusiastically. He says that he loves this area, that it is great for training, and must be wonderful to live here too. Talking about his teammate Tom Dumoulin, recent winner of the Giro here in Italy – and the first Dutchman to win the title – he limits himself to saying that he is a real champion. These words alone say a lot. Lauren says that it is a pleasure to race alongside him and to give a helping hand when he can, especially in the really tough race legs. And when we ask Laurens which is his favourite victory he responds that it will be the one he wins in the coming Tour. Ten Dam was born in Maastricht, spendid Dutch town which has the Mosa river running through it and is close to the Belgium border. The town is famous not just for its beauty but the fact that the European Union Treaty was signed here in 1992. This Union is today wobbling, just as happens to riders when there is a breakaway and some keep the pace and others are left behind. The consequences of Brexit, a Europe of two divisions, means that the Union now has difficulty to establish a precise identity. As for Laurens, he hopes and wishes for a more united Europe, one able to help out this world itself so much in difficulty, especially when thinking of environmental considerations. Speaking of Europe brings out the most outspoken part of this rider, a rider used to staying in the group and helping out companions. It is for this reason too that we are keen to cheer him on and hope that his next victory is the best of all. Come on Laurens. You can do it!

Mathias