Danielson has been vocal about the efforts to clean up the sport, and noted many of those cyclists punished had stopped using banned substances long before the USADA’s investigation that ended in the sport’s most high-profile athlete, Lance Armstrong, being banned for life. Danielson told reporters in interviews after his suspension that most cyclists welcomed the new changes as they felt they had no choice for many years.
Danielson has been one of the sport’s most well-known riders despite not winning a major tour in his career. He said it was being injured early in the Tour de France this year that forced him to really evaluate why he was still cycling.
“Normally I’m in the race, I’m kind of there, knowing I could be there, and then at crunch time, can’t do it; I just can’t do it,” he said. “Mentally, I kind of second-guess myself. I had a different Tour de France this year, getting injured at the beginning, and I had a lot of time to reflect while I was getting my head kicked in during that race, 'Why am I doing this sport?'
“When I came home, it became real clear to me, I’m doing it to try to win races,” he said. “I don’t like to try to be a guy it the peloton. I decided this would be a good race for me to do this.”
When Morton earned the yellow jersey in Stage 3, Danielson said he tried to be a good teammate and help the 21-year-old hold on to it. Morton did earn the best young rider’s jersey, while Stage 6 winner Mancebo won the most aggressive rider’s jersey. Michael Torckler won the king of the mountain jersey, an honor he claimed on the first day and managed to hold on to despite competing against some of the best climbers in the world.
Danielson said his mindset shifted when Morton said he didn’t have the legs to try and win Stage 5.
“I think a lot of people don’t quite understand what professional cycling is and what we’re doing,” he said when asked if this race was a turning point for his career. “They think we’re out there making money riding bikes, and we look cool doing it. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of suffering. It’s a lot of injuries. Look at Chris here to my right.’ He’s seen it all, and why is he still doing it? He’s doing it for experiences like we have here. That’s why we do it. We put up with knee surgeries, calf tears and the crashes just to get that one moment like I had today. We just keep doing it. That’s who we are as professional cyclists.”
Not only is this Horner’s first race in five months because of knee surgery, the king of the mountain jersey is the biggest prize Torckler has won since being hit by a car while training last year. The cyclists nodded as Danielson expressed his affection for the sport of cycling.
“We’re very determined people who are looking for moments like we get today,” he said. “We’re not out there trying to make money or anything else. We’re trying to seize that moment.”
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