The whispers get louder
If Tom Danielson had a nickel for every time someone asked his thoughts about replacing Lance Armstrong as America's next grand tour hope, he wouldn't need to race for money anymore. But he still would - just for the love of the sport. And as Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski found out at the Discovery Channel team presentation in Beverly Hills, Danielson is ready to begin his ascendency towards that spot left vacant by Lance.
Is Tom Danielson the next Lance? Those whispers became louder last April as Lance announced his retirement one day, and seemingly the next was riding in support of Danielson while the young American won the 2005 Tour de Georgia. He went on to start his first grand tour, the Giro d'Italia, helping teammate and overall winner Paolo Savoldelli during the first week before abandoning due to knee problems. He had a strong season with fifth overall at the Tour of Austria and a fifth place in the Vuelta prologue, going onto finish seventh overall, confirming his belief that the grand tours are for him - a focus he brings into 2006 after a year of learning.
"I definitely grew with the team a bit over the year, learned a lot from the great riders around me," says Danielson. "I spent some time with the directors, learning and training in the races. I took a lot of experience from last year, both on and off the bike. The confidence has helped me in my training and preparation for this year, and has pushed my work ethic to another level." Danielson also wants to continue to learn from the wealth of knowledge on the Discovery Channel team - a team he considers more like family after a tough stint at Fassa Bortolo in 2004. "I'd like to grow as much as I can with this team. This is my family and I'd like to have as many in-work experiences with them as possible - to grow and bond, which should make for a better career overall."
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