Affectionately referred to by organisers as ‘the godfather of gravel, Ten Dam returns for a 3rd time to Transcordilleras. He completed second to winner Peter Stetina within the eight-day stage race in 2022, then received the general final 12 months.
Transcordilleras is a stage race, an endurance check and a bikepacking journey rolled into one throughout 985km of the three ranges of the Andes mountains in Colombia, which begins February 11. Returning for the eight-day, self-supported stage race that concludes on February 18 are high Colombians Antonio Donado Calle, who was second general final 12 months, and Brayan Chaves Rubio, third general.
Marcelo Gutierrez, Colombian mountain bike nationwide champion and downhill legend, may even be hoping for a greater 12 months after a late DNF in 2023 following a crash and ensuing fractured clavicle that ended his week within the final 10km from the end line on stage 8.
US-based newcomers for the eight days of racing embrace Russell Finsterwald, who received Huge Sugar Gravel in 2022, Whitney Allison, who was second general on the 2023 Belgian Waffle Trip Quadrupel Crown, and Griffin Easter, who was third at Rebecca’s Non-public Idaho final 12 months and on the highway received the queen stage of the 2017 La Vuelta a Colombia.
On the beginning for the continuous class is Canadian highway veteran Rob Britton, final 12 months’s Belgian Waffle Trip British Columbia winner with high 10s at SBT GRVL and BWR California.
The total model of almost 1,000 kilometres takes in a staggering 23,650 metres of elevation acquire, most of it on distant filth roads and washed-out gullies. Class winners will probably be recognised in Santa Fé de Antioquia for the highest particular person women and men, in addition to two-rider groups, composed of 1 girl and one man.
For the week of struggling, organisers present a navigation gadget with stay monitoring and in a single day lodging every night time. Members should carry their very own provides, from bike repairs to attire and vitamin.
It may be a frightening week, however Finsterwald mentioned it was all about “respect the terrain, embrace the altitude, and simply maintain pedalling”.
“I’m principally excited for a brand new sort of problem and have a look at this race as an effective way to construct some health for the upcoming race season in addition to a option to check out a number of the new tools I’m using in 2024,” he mentioned, including that his largest problem earlier than hitting the altitude was deciding on “which creature comforts have to return and which of them have to remain dwelling”.
For Allison, it’s not solely her first time using Transcordilleras, however her first time in South America. She’s achieved a variety of gravel racing since transferring from highway racing after 2019, and is keen to take use the heavy quantity of gravel using to set a stable base for an enormous US calendar, which begins in a March with Belgian Waffle Trip Arizona and Mid South.
“I feel what will be probably the most fascinating is understanding ladies are inclined to not have as nice restoration as males, and that repeatability over eight days. It is a great quantity of quantity,” Allison advised Cyclingnews.
“So for me, it is also serving as a second coaching camp. Nearly all of my season is comprised of one-day gravel races. I am positively gonna go as arduous as attainable, however with the concept that it is eight days, so I am not totally certain what that appears like.”
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In 2022 solely 12 riders took on the continuous bikepacking effort, and this 12 months the quantity virtually tripled to 30 people, three of them ladies.
This time Ten Dam opted for the continuous class, joined by fellow Dutchman Thomas Dekker. Former teammates at Rabobank, the 2 have mixed for 30 years within the professional highway peloton, each transferring to pave the trail with off-road journey biking for the previous 4 years.
“I made a decision to do Transcordilleras continuous as an alternative of the eight days like final 12 months due to coaching for Tour Divide. I need to put myself in sure conditions the place you may’t plan.”
Ten Dam plans to tackle the multi-day Tour Divide following one other Gravel Locos-Unbound Gravel doubleheader within the US. He additionally has an assortment of world occasions on his calendar together with his LtD Gravel Fest (April 27) and one other alternative for UCI Gravel World Championships (October 6).
The preparation for his endurance rides goes again to 2020, he recounted, on the Tour of the Pyrenees, and, most just lately accomplished the 450km Additional Components in Scotland, a 24-hour race in October, with Dekker. He was ‘kind of skilled’ for the continuous, do-it-yourself experience, and remembered primarily what to not do.
“I made so many errors. I used to be on my gravel bike with 38cc tyres, I took a shitload of stuff as a result of I used to be used to bikepacking with my dad,” he mentioned with amusing.
“You recognize, I simply love using my bike within the mountains. And it actually brings me again to my recollections of me with with my dad bikepacking, exploring the world. Again in October [Scotland], I observed I’m not afraid within the night time. That was a 24-hour race and I couldn’t sleep in any respect, however right here I intention to sleep with the intention to maintain it enjoyable. I don’t like sleep deprivation a part of the extremely biking.”
He constructed his Tour Divide arrange at dwelling in his storage, a Specialised S-works Epic with World Cup full suspension and Shimano 12-speed, no Di2, and “the heaviest tyres I might discover, as a result of I hate flat tyres”, plus aerobars, lights, a Purepower vitamin in varied luggage. It was prepared for a maiden voyage at Transcordilleras.
“When it comes to vitamin, you simply eat no matter you’ll find on the path. I’ve achieved this race already two instances, the eight-day stage, and right here in Colombia you’ll find meals. I’m not able to bonk an excessive amount of. There are gasoline stations and small outlets in each city,” he mentioned. “I attempt to maintain it sensible and maintain it enjoyable and having fun with Colombia once more.”
He mentioned he’d attempt to get two or three nights of sleep, utilizing the ‘Lachlan system’ of six hours off and 18 hours on, which he needs to duplicate at Tour Divide. Final August, Lachlan Morton accomplished the two,670-mile Tour Divide route – from Banff in Canada’s Rocky Mountains to Antelope Wells in New Mexico – in an unofficial new quickest recognized time for a self-supported rider in 12 days, 12 hours and 21 minutes. To scale back sleep deprivation, Morton used a system of 12 hours of sleep for each 48 hours, and known as it a recreation changer in his endurance feat.