Tom Danielson finally stepped out of the shadows and into the sunlight. He attacked, unleashed his climbing talent, and was rewarded with the overall victory in the Tour of Utah.
|Tom Danielson, courtesy of tomdanielson.com|
Danielson, of Garmin-Sharp, rode away from Chris Horner on the final climb of the final stage. Danielson wound up 1 minute, 24 seconds ahead of Horner. Entering Sunday's finale, the two were tied on time, though Horner held the overall lead based on finishing ahead of Danielson. The bold move followed five days of smart riding that put him in position for victory.
Injury and doubt filled Danielson's career. Some of the latter might have been brought on by the proclamations of Danielson as the next Lance Armstrong. He followed Armstrong's lead via doping, admitting last year to blood doping in an affidavit filed in USADA's case against Armstrong. He showed flashes in winning the 2005 Tour de Georgia and an eighth-place finish at the 2011 Tour de France. Other than that, though, the promise was unfilled. His attack Sunday was bold, the kind made by a man comfortable with his talents and unafraid to put them on display.
His fans had been waiting to see this, through his years at Fassa Bortolo and Discovery and even Garmin.
"I was very proud of myself, because it takes a lot of mental strength to go up against a competitor like Chris Horner," Danielson was quoted as saying on cyclingnews.com. "It would have been rally easy for me to just sit behind and try to hang on, but I owed it to myself to try and be the person that I want to be and take the bull by the horn and do it. So, I'm really proud, and I dedicated that one to my teammates, who have basically stuck with me the last years and tried to help me do that many times when I didn't do it. So I'm very happy to finally do it."
Maybe confession was good for the soul and the truth set Danielson free. He's 35 now and will have fewer chances to show off his climbing prowess. Maybe he realizes that and will make the most of the time he has left. Confession was unkind to Levi Leipheimer, who was fired, and George Hincapie, who retired. Here and now is all that Danielson has. Let's hope he shows us again in a week or so at the USA Pro Challenge.