By Shane Stokes
Team Slipstream Chipotle-H3O will start the Tour of the Mediterranean this week minus Tom Danielson, with the American rider now being scheduled to ride the Tour of California instead.
Team manager Jonathan Vaughters' original plan was for Danielson to ride early season French races such as the Etoile de Bessèges and the Tour of the Mediterranean, competing in Europe rather than in the Tour of California in order to improve his positioning in the bunch. Danielson has long been regarded as a strong climber and time trialist but has, by his own admission, used up important energy in the past due to his positioning within the peloton.
Contacted by Cyclingnews about Danielson’s absence from the Tour of the Mediterranean roster, Vaughters confirmed the change in plans. “We revamped Tom's schedule as we did get the Giro invite, but did not get the Dauphiné invite,” he said. “He'll be doing three weeks worth of fighting for the front in Italy, anyway!
“There are some big races on his schedule so we needed to lighten up the early year a bit. That's why we kept Tom at home to do the Tour of California instead.”
2008 marks a big step up in quality for the team. A number of big name riders have arrived, a Giro start has been confirmed and Slipstream are strongly tipped to get a wildcard slot in the Tour de France. Vaughters is happy with things thus far.
“We're off to a good start, both [with] the new "stars" we hired, and the young guys we've been working with for a few years,” he stated. “It’s very gratifying to see the young guys step up and gel with the established riders. We'll see how we really are as we hit the first real objectives of the year, like Tour of California, Paris-Nice, and Criterium International.”