Editor’s note: This four-part interview was conducted shortly after Danielson rode in the 2009 Tour of Lombardy and Vuelta.
The 2009 season proved to be a pivotal one for Tom Danielson. After two difficult years, during which the Garmin-Transitions rider fought his way through some tough times and rough rides, including illness and crashes that left him with more than just minor injuries, the affable former collegiate mountain-bike sensation and Grand Tour stage winner was making a comeback to the top ranks of world cycling.
Having worked hard last winter in the States and all season long in Europe, racing both the Giro and the Vuelta—not to mention several Classics and stage races—Tommy D looked to be on his way to the Vuelta podium after riding strongly into the top 10, and as high as 4th on GC for several key stages. With his promising TT win and third place overall earlier at the Vuelta a Burgos, the Connecticut native looked poised to finally snatch a top 3 in Spain.
But with less than a week left in the tour Danielson was forced to pull out. Though he tried to race through it, he eventually succumbed to a nasty flu, and the 31-year-old had to abandon Spain’s Grand Tour, one of his favorite races and biggest goals of the year. Yet it didn’t stop him from finishing the season strong: He rode a respectable TT at the World Championships, was in the thick of the road race until the final selection was made on the last lap, and helped teammate Dan Martin to a top 10 at Lombardia.
I caught up with Danielson for a candid conversation. In this four-part interview, the easy-going, always optimistic rider talks about getting through a long season of ups and downs, learning to battle in one-day races, Evans and Vandenbroucke, and why he’ll be going into 2010 with the best form of his career.