When Greg Daniel pulled on the US national road race champion's jersey in 2016 he and his agent were well aware that it would lead to a flurry of phone calls from WorldTour team bosses hoping to sign the talented 22-year-old.
Daniel, of course, had been on the radars of many teams for some time, and he was one of the latest in a long line of talents to come off the Axeon Hagens Berman production line. However, the national win, coupled with the overall title at the Tour de Beauce, cemented his place on many WorldTour managers' shopping lists.
“After California I started talking to a few teams but I think what solidified a spot was after nationals and Beauce my agent started talking to a few teams. At the Tour of Utah, the day I broke my collarbone actually, that was when I officially knew that I was coming to Trek-Segafredo,” he told Cyclingnews.
At his first training camp with his new team, Daniel was initially in awe of the athletes he was riding alongside. He had clashed swords with WorldTour riders at races such as the Tour of California but this was an entirely different experience. However, at no point does Daniel believe he made the wrong decision in moving to the American squad – a call he made based on a number of important factors.
“I think that Trek have shown a good reputation in terms of development with guys like [Jasper] Stuyven and also my teammate Reuben Guerreiro, who came over from Axeon. I think Trek were more interested in me being a rider and not just the national champion’s jersey. I think some teams would have been interested in me because I’m the current champion but Trek were more interested in my development and Greg Daniel as a rider. That was very important.”
At the December camp Daniel roomed with fellow American Kiel Reijnen, a rider so laid back and chilled he is almost horizontal. That calming influence, plus Trek’s general atmosphere, has helped Daniel settle into his new surroundings. His plans to share an apartment with Peter Stetina in Girona, Spain, should help him further.
“I was a little nervous because there are really big names on the team and coming in as a neo-pro it’s daunting to ride with Degenkolb, Mollema and Contador," he said.
“They’re the people you see on TV when you’re a kid. You think they won’t talk to you or they would be standoff-ish but as soon as I started saying hello, they’ve been really nice. They’re normal people and willing to help me out.”
Of course, Daniel has not just turned professional for a paycheck and few training rides with the big boys. He has his own ambitions and a steely serious side. That nature has been apparent at the Trek camp too, and he’s well aware that the first year at WorldTour will be about learning and digesting as much information and experience as possible.
“I want to come in and do well but obviously there’s a learning curve, so there are going to be mistakes. It’s important to make them as long as I don’t repeat them. We’re really focused on having ‘no excuses’ and that we race the best we can. We want to be the best WorldTour team.”
Daniel has yet to confirm his race calendar for 2017 but he will open his account in Argentina before heading to the Middle East. There will be a focus on the home based races later in the season but he is keen to get stuck in over a range of terrrain.
“I know that my first race is in Argentina and then I go to Abu Dhabi. After that I don’t know but I have an apartment now with Peter Stetina in Girona so after Abu Dhabi I’ll go and stay with him. I’ll probably do a lot of the American races like Cali and Utah. I’ll be glad to do any races, even if it doesn’t suit me well and it’s a flat windy race, it’s still good to go there and learn.
“I think going to all these WorldTour races, it’s going to be a lot harder than the races I’ve done before. I’ve done a lot of under-23 races in Europe and I’ve done races like California, where the racing is more professional.
"For me it’s very special. The goal since I was 14 was to go WorldTour but coming here, making it happen and wearing the national jersey is a dream come true.”