Tom Danielson (Garmin-Transitions) is poised for his best Vuelta a España ever following a steady performance in Wednesday’s long and flat individual time trial at Peñafiel that puts him within range of the top-5 overall.
Danielson has twice finished in the top-10 at the Vuelta – with seventh in 2005 and sixth in 2006 – and slotted into seventh overall at 3:54 behind new leader Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) with five stages to go. He’s hoping to nudge even higher if he has a strong ride Saturday in the decisive Bola del Mundo climb.
“I have no expectations at all in the final week. I’m only 11 seconds out of fourth place, so we’ll see what happens,” Danielson told VeloNews. “I rode the best time trial I could today. I had a problem with the zipper on my booty (shoe cover). I felt like I had a parachute on my foot. I struggled a little on the first part, but I felt strong on the way back. That’s bike racing. It’s never as easy as it looks on TV. I put together the most solid ride I could today.”
Wednesday in Peñafiel, Danielson stopped the clock for 14th at 1:53 slower than Velits. Danielson said he’s proud of how he’s ridden in what he described as one of the most difficult Vueltas ever.
“This race is so hard this year. This is not a normal Vuelta. We’ve been going at it since day one,” Danielson continued. “It’s been difficult ever day. Every stage has a hard climb in it. Even today, 54 minutes on the TT bike. There’s not been one easy day during this Vuelta.”
While a hoped-for trip to the top-3 podium when the Vuelta finishes Sunday in Madrid is a long shot with just five stages to go, Danielson could still mark a personal best if he’s strong up the decisive Bola del Mundo climb Saturday.
“This Vuelta is crazy. The who won today (Peter Velits) was dropped on the first climb Monday and then ‘Purito’ Joaquim Rodríguez (overnight leader) loses six minutes, so who knows what’s going to happen,” he said. “Nibali has been the most solid guy. That’s what it’s all about in grand tours – being consistent.”
Danielson was part of a strong outing by Garmin-Transitions in Wednesday’s TT. David Zabriskie was seventh at 1:10 slower and David Millar was 10th at 1:27 back. The trio’s efforts won Garmin the team’s prize for the stage.