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Danielson riding well in Tour de Suisse

Saturday’s penultimate stage of the Tour de Suisse saw a strong ride by Garmin Transitions' Tom Danielson, who made it into the move of the day and was involved in the fight for the victory in Liestal.

The break went clear inside the first half hour of the 172.4 kilometre stage and, according to Danielson’s team manager Jonathan Vaughters, it was the first time that he had been in such a long move.

While Danielson was tailed off slightly on the run-in to the finish and was seventh across the line, he explained afterwards that because of injuries he suffered in the run-up to the Tour of California, he was unable to go as deep as he wished. As a result, he was pleased with his placing.

“It was a really tough day and I am happy to be in the front,” he told Cyclingnews. “I never felt in difficulty, it is just for me overcoming a bad injury. I am happy with it…we were a really strong breakaway. Obviously you look at the peloton behind, there were only about 20 guys left in the front from that. So I am happy. “

Danielson’s accident happened when he hit a pothole on a training ride in May. He damaged his hip, his pelvis and his L5 vertebra. “I did everything I could to get through that,” he said, when asked how his recovery is going. “I rode through it and really suffered a lot. Now I’m still in some pain but not as bad.”

“It was a tough final for me with the broken L5….I can only ride steady, I can’t do the jumps right now as I start hitting a nerve. That makes my leg go numb,” he explained. “So I just rode as smart as I could and stayed steady. If the guys [in his chase group] rode a little more consistent instead of trying to jump across, I think we could have caught those ahead.”

Heading into the final stage, the 32-year-old is sitting 25th overall, 6’58” behind race leader Robert Gesink. He lost the bulk of that time on Thursday’s mountain stage to La Punt, conceding 6’40” to the Dutchman. Had he not experienced mechanical problems, he would have been better placed.

“I was up there with the first guys on the mountain stage and I flatted. I changed my wheel but the wheel wouldn’t work with my bike so I had to wait for a little while to get another bike,” he said. Even so, he is best placed of the Garmin riders in the general classification.

Danielson has not yet ridden the Tour de France and would jump at the chance to make his debut this year. He still doesn’t know if he will be riding or not, and will hope that his performance at the Tour de Suisse will be looked on favourably.

“Obviously I would love to do it,” he said. “It is not up to me, it is up to the team. I am in good shape and can show that I am up there with the other guys, but it is not my decision.

“I have good form…I showed it before I crashed in Gila, then I was better in Gila, then I crashed again. That set me back. But I am definitely riding well, and I showed today that I can ride in the breakaway on the hardest stage of the race with a busted hip. Obviously by the Tour start things will have healed a bit more, but right now I have no idea if I’ll be going to the Tour or not.”

Vaughters indicated that Danielson wasn’t initially pencilled in as one of those most likely to make the team, but that his good performance has been noted.

“That is the first long breakaway like that that he has ever been in in his life. I am really happy about it,” he said. “Tom is a bit of late bloomer but he is finally starting to turn into a real bike racer that is not just a great white hope, but a guy who goes out there every day and does his job.

“I would say Tom is a pretty outside possibility for the Tour, but he is certainly doing his best to convince us. That’s for sure,” he continued. “Our final Tour selection won’t happen until four or five days after this race is over with.”

What might further help his chances is a good ride in today’s concluding time trial. After that, it will be a question of waiting to see if he will ride the Tour, or instead focus on the Vuelta a España.

More relaxed in 2010:

Danielson’s physiological abilities are well documented, but in the past he’s been known to get stressed while racing and burn a lot of nervous energy. He appears to be more at ease this season, however. “I have just been more relaxed. It is just learning. I fell behind in the last couple of years and you are always nervous as a result…when you are behind, you are wondering ‘when am I going to get there, when am I going to get there’. To get there [being competitive again] feels nice. Now it is just a matter of being really consistent, being relaxed and enjoying it.

“I have done a real good build up to this point, apart from my crash. You can see that I have been real steady, and my form has been coming up.”