Tom Danielson. A mental victory in Utah.
I’m happy for Tom Danielson and his GC victory in the Tour of Utah. I really can’t say I know that much about Tommy D because I’ve only been covering the sport for a few years but I’ve interviewed him a number of times and he always comes across as a really nice guy.
AT the Tour de France, I did a little interview with him as he explained the tiny green dinosaur he had glued to the stem of his race bike. It was one of the little toys his young son played with at home. Being a little kid, he was sad that daddy was leaving for four weeks so he gave Tom the creature to take around France like a dino-version of Flat Stanley.
As many race fans know, Danielson has had an up and down career. Nobody ever doubted the physical talents but it took him a long time and work with sports psychologists to bring get him in strong mental shape.
While his top ten ride in the Tour de France a few years back was impressive, it was his win last year in the US Pro Cycling Challenge that showed he was a changed man. In stage three from Gunnison to Aspen he attacked and rode away to a fabulous solo victory. The careful and conservative days of following wheels were over.
When I talked with Garmin-Sharp DS Charly Wegelius in Colorado, he pointed to that change in mentality. ”The transformation isn’t just racing style — the real shift was mental, not physical. “Everybody knows what kind of engine he’s got, but I think often he fills his mind with unnecessary clutter,” said DS Charlie Wegelius. “He just needed to get back to letting it out. If he does, there’s nothing that can stop him.”
Well, Chris Horner didn’t stop Danielson in Utah. In the the final stage in Park City, with Horner in the leader’s jersey, Tommy D took matters into his own hands. He attacked.
“I’m very proud of myself because it takes a lot of mental strength to go up against a competitor like Chris like that,” Danielson said. “You know, it would have been really easy for me to just sit behind and try to hang on, but I owed it to myself to try to be that person that I want to be, take the bull by the horns and do it.”
That’s also one of the things that is refreshing about Danielson — he’s open about his struggles and the things he has had to overcome. Things like the burden of being called the next Lance Armstrong or testifying to USADA and admitting his doping past or even difficulties adapting to a new helper role in this year’s Tour de France. The guy wears his heart on his sleeve.
So Twisted SPoke says chapeau Tommy D and good luck in Colorado.