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Danielson has ’99 problems, but a climb ain’t one’

Banged up Garmin rider focused on Utah, Colorado after leaving the Tour after the Metz Massacre

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ODGEN, Utah (VN) — For Tom Danielson, the Tour of Utah couldn’t have come any sooner.

The American crashed out of the Tour de France in the first week after separating both shoulders in two crashes. It was agonizing for Danielson, who came in fit and hoped to better his eighth-place finish at la Grande Boucle in 2011. Instead, he found himself on a plane, headed home.

But missing the Tour has given him a new perspective on the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. This is a race he won’t hold back in, and Danielson has said as much. This is his season now.

“It’s not really ideal, but it definitely put things in perspective for me. I’m really appreciative of racing,” he told VeloNews. “I think that I have a much clearer view of the Tour of Utah this year than last year. I’m really motivated to be here and would like to do a good race, for sure.”

His Garmin-Sharp outfit rode the front in stage 1 for the bulk of the day, and is clearly one of the strongest squads in Utah. There’s a team time trial on Wednesday afternoon, in which Garmin is favored, as it has a full boat of riders, including time trial specialist Dave Zabriskie. Teammate Christian Vande Velde is also a legitimate general classification threat.

This Utah course is the most difficult ever, which suits the wiry Danielson just fine.

“This route is really good for me. Like I said, I have 99 problems, and the course route’s not one of them,” he said. “I just have to do the best I can. I think it’s a good race for me. Of course, it’s my first race back after the crash and I don’t know where I’m at, but I’ll find out soon enough.”

If anything, Danielson is rested — a shift from last year at this time.

“Last year, it was a little bit too hard for me to do this race, and then Colorado after the Tour. I was pretty fried,” he said. “My situation now? One week at the Tour, a month-and-a-half, and then this. Hopefully that sets me up better.”

The 2012 Tour of Utah climbs 37,501 feet in total, with 10,000 of that on Saturday’s stage to Snowbird. A climb on the final day has a sustained section at 23 percent. It’s steep and hot all week and Danielson says every single day is “the day.”

“These races, you can never be too confident,” he said. “If you’re the strongest guy in the race, the last day is not a problem. Snowbird’s not a problem; it’s just icing on the cake.

“But if two guys are really close, I think the last day’s going to be the day. Snowbird’s going to be the day. If two guys finish together on Snowbird, the obviously they’re going to try to break it up. The team time trial should be a factor as well.”