Although Tom Danielson was looking quite comfortable atop the Mirador del Sol, and felt he could have battled for the stage win against eventual winner Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing), Tour de San Luis leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and local hero Sergio Godoy (San Luis Somos Todos), the Garmin-Sharp rider instead opted to be a good teammate to second placed-overall Phil Gaimon.
Danielson hauled Gaimon to the top of the stage 6 finishing climb, limiting his fellow American's loss to just 14 seconds to the stage winner, and more importantly, only nine seconds to Quintana.
"Today I felt like I could have won the stage and I thought for a minute 'I'm going to attack'," Danielson said, "but I looked back and Phil was just behind and I thought 'F**k yeah Phil, you're with the best guys in the world' after putting in a big effort, and I'm going to ride with you all the way to the top. I kept tagging him onto the first guys and that's an experience that Phil has never had before."
Gaimon emerged as the team's unexpected leader for the Tour de San Luis when he made the winning breakaway on the first stage, and profited from the stalemate between the sprinters' teams, netting over four and a half minutes' lead over the rest of the general classification favorites.
That lead evaporated to just four seconds on the stage 4 finishing climb to Alto del Amago when Quintana rocketed away on the 10km climb, and it then turned into a 26-second deficit after the stage 5 time trial. However, with more than a minute and a half on third placed Godoy, Garmin was determined to keep Gaimon in second place.
"I'm really proud of Phil today. That was a world-class performance I knew he could do," Danielson said. "I've been working with Phil since last year and I came to this race in great form and think I could have gone for the overall, but with Phil's card it was phenomenal what he's done all week. He's done everything and to be there helping him along the way.
"The cool thing about Phil is a lot of the things he did at this race were all his weaknesses. He's worked on his weaknesses since last November when I first met him," Danielson continued. "[We got a stage win and second overall], all with a rookie, a guy who's been racing not near this level ever. The other performances were great, but today was a world-class performance and I'm really, really proud of him.
"When Quintana and those guys crossed the line I'm really happy that I was able to be there next to him to watch that."
Visibly exhausted, Gaimon was a bit less verbose in his responses to reporters than the ebullient Danielson, but he was equally pleased with his ride today.
"It got steeper and somehow I had today what I didn't have a few days ago and what I wanted to have all week," Gaimon said. "The legs were awesome and Tom [Danielson] saved my ass as always. I'm stoked to stay in second."
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