Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) has had to wait a long time but on Saturday he will line up on the Passage du Gois for the start of his maiden Tour de France. The 33-year-old turned professional nearly a decade ago and despite competing in several other grand tours, has always been overlooked when it came to the biggest race of all.
"It’s been a long time coming so I’m really excited about doing it. I have to say that even though I’m 33, I feel like a little kid here and it’s really exciting for me," Danielson told Cyclingnews.
"We got here early. Normally when I’m at a bike race early the time goes by slowly but here it’s just been really different. We rode the last 110 kilometres of the first stage and seeing the bikes by the side of the road, imagining what it’s going to be like with all the people, you can just feel it in the air. This race is just totally different."
Danielson secured a place in the Garmin-Cervelo team after a strong start to the season. He has finished third in the Amgen Tour of California and ninth in the Tour de Suisse. His versatility in time trials and in the mountains cemented his place, while his pedigree over three weeks improved last year when he finished 9th in the Vuelta.
"I’ve never done the Tour. I’ve done the Giro and Vuelta so I know I can handle the three week element but I haven’t done the Tour. I don’t know any of the climbs or the roads so the plan is about taking it day-by-day and worrying about the team’s goals," he explained.
"I know my form is good and that I’m in good condition. I know I’ll have a part in a number of goals and maybe in the mountains I can see what my objectives are more clearly but for now it’s about looking at 21 one day races, enjoying it and absorbing everything I can."
"I never thought I’d have to wait this long to do the Tour. For me it’s all been about different scenarios and I didn’t expect it to take this long but I’m not looking back, I’m done with that part of my life, I’m going to be looking forward and there are no regrets about how I got here."
The Garmin-Cervelo team is arguably stronger than it's ever been, with world champion Thor Hushovd, Tyler Farrar, David Millar, Dave Zabriskie, Ryder Hesjedal and Christian Vande Velde forming a solid nucleus. The strong base gives Danielson’s inclusion in the Tour team even more significance with several talented riders passed over at his expense.
Possibly in the form of his life Danielson puts his new found success down to his young family.
"A lot of it is down to having an amazing wife and becoming a father. Those two components have been great experiences for me and having my son last year really changed things for me and I really started putting things together."
"I went to the Tour of California and things clicked for me. I needed that result in California though. That was perhaps the little piece that was missing."