Christian Vande Velde paces Garmin-Cervelo teammate Tom Danielson on the Côte de Pramartino.
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American has an off-day in Pinerolo
Garmin-Cervelo leader Tom Danielson saved his ninth position on GC on stage 17 of the Tour de France but lost valuable seconds to three riders challenging him for a top ten in Paris.
The 33-year-old Tour de France debutante, who finished 4:53 down on the winner Edvald Boasson Hagen, said he suffered an off-day, but was happy to minimise the losses before the race heads into the Alps tomorrow.
Danielson lost valuable GC seconds to Rigoberto Uran (Sky), Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) and Kevin De Weert (Quick Step) who are all directly behind him on GC.
At the end of the stage between Gap and Pinerolo, he now leads his closest challenger, Uran, by just over 1:30, after 17 seconds was trimmed off his lead.
Danielson, who laid the groundwork for a high-placed finish on the first mountain stage to Luz Ardiden, said he was now looking forward to a series of giant ascents in the Alps like the Galibier and Alpe d'Huez, many of which he hasn't ridden before.
"Yesterday I felt amazing and today I felt like I was taking a nap out there – I couldn't get in the groove and get the burn going. In every Grand Tour you have an off day, but I'm real happy to get through today minimising the losses."
Danielson's group also included yellow jersey holder Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale). He said the final descent, which saw several riders crash or overcook corners, was horrifying.
"I did the descent in the Giro in 2009, so I knew it was really, really bad. If it had been wet I don't know how we would have got down. Every day I have a terrifying experience – I'm not willing to take the risk that some of these other guys take and today was horrifying," he said.
After two medium mountains stages which have reshuffled the general classification more than the expected head-to-head battles in the Pyrenees, the race heads into the Alps.
"I can't say I'm not excited about tomorrow, the next day and the time trial, so I've just got to recover from today which shouldn't be too hard as I couldn't go deep today," he said. "I'm just pretty excited to see the Alps – I've never ridden them before so I just hope to do well. I've just got to keep doing my thing and if I have to suffer like I did on the second mountains stage to get through then so be it."
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