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Garmin-Transitions' Thomas Danielson shows the signs of a big day in the saddle.
American climber feeling good before the Pyrénées
Lying in 15th overall, less than two minutes behind new race leader Joaquin Rodriguez, Garmin-Transitions' Tom Danielson is in a situation to repeat his top 10 performance at the 2006 Vuelta a España when he finished sixth.
But the American told Cyclingnews that he won't be setting any clear objectives for overall ambitions until stage 17, a 46km individual time trial with the probability of a lot of wind in Peñafiel.
"I had troubles with the punchy finishes of the first week of the Vuelta and I'm glad to approach climbs that suit me better," Danielson said at the start of stage 10 in Tarragona. "Every time I felt great all day but I couldn't go with those guys like Igor Anton and Rodriguez, who are very explosive."
The 32-year-old enjoyed the productive training he had while his team-mates were busy supporting Ryder Hesjedal at the Tour de France. "I trained in Colorado in July," he explained. "I just had a baby, Steven, and I spent time with him too. Then I finished eighth at the Tour of Poland. It went all good there and it built my confidence for the Vuelta."
The UCI points Danielson scored finishing in the top 10 in Poland actually qualified a ninth rider for the US at the world championships later this month; it was the second last race before the deadline of August 15.
Before the Polish event, only eight American riders appeared on the world ranking, which would have limited the participation to the same number at the race in Australia if it wasn't for Danielson's last minute performance.
"At the Vuelta I'm trying to stay more calm than last year and I won't set any goal for myself until stage 17," he said. Stage 10 was another indication of his good form as he looked fresher than many other riders at the finish in Vilanova i la Geltrù.
"I thought they would go faster on the climb," he said of the Alto del Rat Penat where all the overall contenders eventually marked each other. Therefore, the big fight is expected for stage 11 to Andorra, a climb that suits Danielson.
The winner of the 2002 Tour of Qinghai Lake, the 2003 Le Tour de Langkawi and the 2005 Tour de Georgia - where Lance Armstrong clearly marked him as his successor rather than Floyd Landis, who had moved from Discovery Channel to Phonak - has yet to meet all the expectations.
For various reasons he hasn't yet achieved all that was expected of him but the former mountain biker with the smooth pedalling style in the hills might just be feeling a little excited at the prospect that a fantastic achievement is around the corner in Spain.