Danielson tips cap to a flying van Garderen, but no white flag yet

Tom Danielson lost five seconds on Friday into Breckenridge and sits in fourth overall, though he knows Tejay van Garderen will be tough to overcome

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

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BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado (VN) — The sky spit rain down in Woodland Park Friday morning. Of course it did, with the tall Hoosier Pass on tap, via Alma, North America’s highest incorporated town.

The peloton steeled itself for a cold day through the central Colorado mountains. It was time to suffer, and suffer they did. Tom Danielson in particular. The Garmin-Sharp rider lost five seconds on the day to race leader Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), and shivered his way through it. He now sits in fourth overall, 39 seconds down, heading into Saturday’s 16km Vail time trial.

“Just a real bike race out there. It was — we wanted guys in the break to go for the stage win. We missed the break a couple times and had to bring it back … then it became really cold and rainy. And sleeting or whatever,” Danielson said. “I was pretty much hypothermic the whole day. Just shivering. I was lucky I even rode all right in the final. I really suffered a lot today with the cold. And the last climb, you know, I didn’t want it to come down to the jump that it did, and it did, and those guys pulled away from me. I think they got a few seconds on me.

Danielson has another crack in Vail Saturday, in the short but rough uphill time trial. He’s close, but perhaps not close enough to van Garderen, a very good time trialist.

“I’m still right there. Tomorrow’s the time trial. I’m going to give it my all. Obviously Tejay’s super strong, and there’s nothing you can say about that. Fantastic performance by him, every day. So you can’t, I can’t really see too many people in the world, anyone in the world, beating him on a course like this,” Danielson said. “Just being there and trying to win every day is what I’m doing. You know, he’s fantastic. He’s riding so strong… He’s just so, so, so good, what are you doing to do?

Time is scarce now for opportunities. Garmin, notoriously aggressive, sees two more stages to claim its home race. “We’re obviously running pretty low on options here. We’ll see what Tom can do in the time trial. You never know in that situation. Tejay’s a pretty good time trialist. Tom’s no slouch,” Garmin’s Alex Howes said. “We’ll see what he can do there. That last day, it’s not hard enough to be a GC day, but it’s certainly hard enough to piss people off.”

The USA Pro Challenge may come at the tail end of a long season, but it’s hotly contested regardless.

“It’s always a hard race. We race every day. Obviously our team is pretty motivated. BMC is pretty motivated. Anybody with American interests like Cannondale and Trek, everybody shows up to race,” Howes said. “You could make the course easy every day and we’d still beat each other up.”

Danielson knows that much. He’s been trying to win this one for years, finishing third overall, behind van Garderen, last year.

“I love it. I mean it’s just, I just wish I could win,” he said, laughing. “But it’s a tough route for me every year. I just give it my all and I love doing it in front of these fans. They’re the best fans in the world and I’m going to continue to do it until maybe some day I win.”

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