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The Tom Danielson Chat
 
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 8/22/2003
The Tom Danielson Chat
 

We were very fortunate to have Tom Danielson of Saturn join us in our chatroom today. Tom will be announcing his signing with a European team in the very near future, and has had a great season (see Tom’s Palmares below the chat).


A Tom Danielson - Prime Alliance sandwich at the Pomona Valley Stage Race
Photo by Gerald Lee

In the first part of the chat, Tom answered questions submitted in advance. Here is that first part.

Daily Peloton: There is some question about where you will be riding next month – specifically, will you be riding the Tour de l'Avenir (September 04-13 in France, rated 2.5) and the San Francisco Grand Prix? One or the other?

Tom Danielson: I will be heading off to France for l'Avenir next week and then my next major race will be Worlds. No San Fran, it is during Avenir.

DP: You said on your website you would be taking a trip to Europe to meet with your 2004 team. Can you say yet what team it is? When will we know?

TD: I will officially announce it in the next week or so, but I'm sure you all have heard all the rumors. It is a bit crazy, but I am looking forward to it!

DP: So can you give us any hints?

TD: Italy is the best I can do, I'm sure you all can put it together from there!

DP: Rumor-mill also has your 2004 Euro team signing a Saturn teammate (or friend) of yours - any hints or inside info?

TD: Well, there are tons of rumors, but I am interested in having one of my teammates with me over there, however, it is very difficult and room is tight.

DP: Has your new team said whether the Tour de France would be in the plans for next season? Was that a factor in the team you signed with? To the extent it's known, what does the race programme for next year look like?

TD: Well, I think their focus for me is the Giro, so if my form is right, I think that will be my major goal for next year. As far as race programme, I will probably be able to share that closer to 2004.

DP: What role do you expect to play in the team - assuming there’s a strong leader in the team, will you be playing the support role on the Grand Tours or a more active role on the smaller tours with a view to growing into the team leadership for grand tours?

TD: I think my position will be very similar to this year. I will play sort of an apprentice to the leaders and if I can step up and ride well, then I may have the freedom to do so. But I hope to learn from the fantastic racers and managers around me and apply it by doing well in races that suit me - stage races, etc.

DP: What are your ambitions and particular goals in Europe? Would the first year be purely to gain experience and gauge how hard or easy European racing is?

TD: For sure...I know the racing will be hard, but anything that is not a challenge is not worth doing. I will set goals when I know my schedule a bit better, and then work hard to achieve them. They may adjusted based on how well I am adapting to the new house, team, culture, etc., a bit better, and then work hard to achieve them.

DP: Who was the most influential person in your decision to ride in Europe? Did Jim Ochowicz (president of USAC, member of the UCI's Professional Cycling Council, and consultant to European Teams such as Phonak) play a role in your signing?

TD: There were many influential people. The biggest part was looking at each team from a the viewpoint of:

1. How the teams culture, focus, and current roster fit my goals and personality;

2. What races the team can get in; and

3. How interested they were in me as an athlete.

I would also like to comment that a core group of people helped me with this decision. My fiancée Kristin, my coach and manager Rick Crawford, my agent Bob Mionske, and Tom Schuler had a lot to do with this decision. Even my current Director Andrezj Bek.

DP: Any feeling of regret about not riding for a US-sponsored Team in Europe next year? Any regrets about riding with a domestic team this year?

TD: I don't know if I have any regrets, maybe that there will be a culture and language barrier, but the team just has such a great infrastructure that I think I will be able to handle this challenge. I definitely miss all the boys at Saturn (and girls). They have helped me out a ton and given me opportunities that I wouldn't have had anywhere else.

DP: What specific changes in training will you make to step up to the longer Euro races and three-week stage races?

TD: I don't think I'll change my training much, as I train quite a bit already. I think consistently racing at a higher level will help, but my coach Rick Crawford will be over there helping me get ready for the big races.

DP: What will your fiancée Kristin Johnson (T-Mobile) be doing in Europe next season?

TD: Kristin will still be focusing on her career, but will come over as much as possible to spend time. She will be over there in the off season and between races. She is my #1 supporter and I wouldn't be anywhere without her. I will need her over with me as much as possible!

DP: If you could ride for any team right now and for any leader, which would it be and why? (Andy)

TD: The team I am going to ride for. It is definitely a dream!

DP: You spent time with Lance Armstrong last year as you were considering your options for a team for this year. In turning Postal down it seems you made the right decision for you. With that in mind, and your desire to race in Europe, would a position on Postal as heir apparent be an attractive position now?

TD: For sure, however, with their current situation (a concrete winning TdF template) I think that they have the best system going for them. I think that my decision again was the right one, but Postal, as they proved again this year, is a class act for sure!

DP: What do you consider your greatest racing feat so far? Have you ever blacked out on a bike through effort?

TD: I think my greatest racing feat by far is winning the Tour de Langkawi. Not only was it a huge race against the best in the world, but it was a very high pressure situation that I had never been in before. I had to deal with the pressure and I developed confidence that I can repeat an effort like this again under similar high-pressure! As for blacking out, never, but close on Genting Highlands!

We were also lucky enough to have Prime Alliance’s Mike Creed join us for the chat, and he asked this question:

Mike Creed: Tom, you going to make me drive train at l'Avenir? If so, can you wait until the last couple stages?

DP: Can you also tell us about the team at l’Avenir?

TD: I think the team will be very strong and you can guarantee you’re going to see Mr. Creed drilling 100k on the front per day!

DP: Who will be the team leader for l’Avenir?

TD: Well, Mike pumped me in a sprint in Sea Otter, so his chances are out!

DP: What rider (of whichever era) do you most compare your own style of riding with?

TD: I think I compare myself with many different riders. Obviously, as an aspiring tour rider, riders like Lance and Tyler are riders I look up to and analyze how they train and race. I really like how they both are great climbers, but both are just as good in the time-trial. I have been working a ton on my TT so I can step up to my climbing performances against the clock.

I really like how Lance trains specifically for the race and knows what he is going up against before he even gets there. His work ethic is something I would like to mold mine around!

DP: You raced mtn before road –what happened to make you realize you had considerable road pro-potential? How old were you?

TD: Well, I love to climb, and there just wasn't a big focus on that off-road. So when I got involved with my current coach through the Fort Lewis College cycling team, he saw my climbing potential and suggested the switch. We focused on the road and I just fell in love with it as soon as I hit the big mountains in Tour de Gila. I was 24 when I made the switch, my senior year in college.

DP: Some tough climbs at Gila...

TD: Very tough!

DP: And you are how old now?

TD: I am 25.


Tom in the leader's jersey at stage 4 of the Pomona Valley Stage Race.
Photo by Gerald Lee

The chat was then opened up to the attendee's questions - here is the conclusion of the chat.

Question: What do you look forward to the most about a European campaign and an Italian team?

Question: What's you personal relation with Lance?

TD: Well, I am really looking forward to races with longer climbs, faster paces, and longer stages. As for Lance, he is a great guy and definitely an idol!

Question: Truthfully, how hard is Genting Highlands ?

Question: How many days a week do you spend climbing during November and December?

TD: As for training in the winter, I probably do climbing 3 days a week, but not at a high pace...Genting Highlands...Really hard! Especially with Munoz attacking you!

Question: At Langkawi, there weren’t really any big names from the European peloton, so how do you think you will place when racing against many of the best at the Giro?

TD: Actually, there were some big names in Langkawi as Munoz has finished in the top ten in the Giro before and the guy that was 3rd overall won the KOM jersey there...plus others such as O’Grady and etc.

Question: Do you know any Italian - how do you feel about entering an all-Italian team, maybe with little culture or knowledge of the language?

TD: I am learning Italian as we speak and my coach is working hard on that as well! I am very excited about the culture as I hear cyclists fit very highly into it. Plus I love Espresso! But yes, there will be better riders there and I know it will be very hard for me, but I will work hard to increase a level or two.

Question: Do you lift weights on your legs in the winter or just ride?

Question: How is your form for l'Avenir; do you think that you will be in contention for the top 3?

TD: I do lift weights in the winter, I hope my form is okay for Avenir, but I am using it mostly for training for Worlds, and I'm sure it will be difficult joining a new team. I feel if I show my teammates the respect that I have for them and show them that I will be there for them, then I hope they will be there for me. Racing is a team effort, so being new I need to show them that they can count on me!

Question: Are you determined to break through in Europe or will you move back to the US if things don't turn out the way you hope in the next couple of years?

TD: Yes, very determined. I know it will tough, but I have an unbelievable support structure with my coach, Kristin, and my agent - I think we will be able to break through...but it will be a challenge, no doubt.

Question: What kind of wheels did you use on Mt. Washington Hill Climb?

Question: Do you see yourself as a future Tour winner?

TD: I used Shimano wheels on the Mt. Washington Hill Climb. As for the Tour, I would like to focus on doing well in the future in both the Giro and the Tour.

Question: Tom, would you go for a stage rather than the overall in the coming Avenir ("future" in French) race? Which is more important?

TD: For me the overall is the most important, but if my form is not good enough, I will work for a stage.

Question: What Euro col are you most stoked to race up some day?

TD: All of them!

Question: Why didn’t you go to USPS?

TD: As for Postal, my current team was exactly what I was looking for.

Question: I know you're a frequent rider of the Iron Horse Classic (Durango, right?). With such tough climbs, I guess the Alps in the Tour de l’Avenir would be a lot easier? Or would you say there's nothing like the Alps?

TD: I've never seen the Alps, but I'm sure they are way tougher than the climbs around here. The altitude makes things hard around here.

Question: Tom, have you gotten any advice from guys like Fred R. or Clinger or Horner on what their first season in Europe was like?

TD: Horner and O'Neill have given me tons of advice and I have picked their brains until they were blue in the face. Those guys have taught me so much!

Question: Do you know where [in Italy] you might live yet?

TD: I'm not sure where I will be living, but I am going to look at that on Sunday.

Question: Did you have any thoughts about staying with Saturn another year?

TD: I did, but an opportunity does not come along like this often, so although I will be going out of my comfort zone, it is an opportunity that I must take.

Question: Any chance of connecting with Andy Hampsten in Italy for support and advice, opportunities to speak English, etc.?

TD: I will contact Andy as I met him this year! Great idea!

Question: Tom, what was the one aspect of training that seemed to pave the way for your current form?

TD: I think breaking the year into four parts of different types of training was the key. I started the year building base. Then worked into build, then intensity, then into a final race/peak cycle. The steady build brings you into form at the right times.

Question: Tom, do you have any trouble staying skinny?

TD: Sure, I definitely monitor the diet, train, race, etc. Once I am at the weight and I am racing, it is easy to stay skinny.

Question: During your base period, do you do any speed work? Or is it all big hours?

TD: All big hours.

Question: Do you think you’ll be in contact with the Americans living in Gerona (Armstrong, Hincapie, Barry and so on)?

TD: Oh yeah, sure, they are all great guys with vast knowledge!

Question: What is your racing weight?

Question: Are you racing in the Chris Thater?

TD: My racing weight is about 130 lbs (59 kilos) and I won't be at Chris Thater 'cause I will be in Europe.

Question: When you were racing mountain bikes you weighed a bit more; how did you know that you could trim down without losing power?

TD: Well, I worked hard in the off-season cutting the calories big time, but kept a steady flow of them. So I was always eating a little bit, but never to be full. It was hard work, but I lost like 20 lbs or so.

Question: Tom, do you believe older riders can still reach a peak and be competitive?

TD: For sure, I think that any athlete has a certain amount of years of racing in them, and it doesn't matter when they start.

Question: What are your thoughts on this year’s Tour?

TD: This year's Tour was great...Lance was amazing and Tyler, no word for that!

Question: Have you ever "overtrained?"

TD: I used to spend all my time either overtrained or under trained. The key is self-management that comes both with experience and with the help of a good coach!

Question: What do you think - which other Americans will be able to make the move to Europe?

TD: There is a ton of talent over here. I think there could be a ton in the next few years.

Question: How many hours a day do you usually train?

TD: I train on average 4 hours a day. But I still have to allocate time for stretching, napping and sleeping, and of course, my favorite, eating. The average day is more full and more difficult than one would think!

At this point, Tom’s father Terry Danielson joined us in the chat.

Question for Terry Danielson: Will it be hard on your family with Tom in Europe? My parents moved there when I was in college.

Terry: Yes, it will be hard to have Tom in Europe but it is exciting for him. I'll miss being able to follow his national races.

Question: Tom, we're going to miss you on the US Circuit! What will you miss about racing in the US?

TD: Thanks, I will miss my teammates, all the friendly reports [referring to Jaime Nichols of the Daily Peloton] and the unbelievable staff of Team Saturn!

DP: You'll still see friendly reports, Pal!

DP: I think it's safe to say we will still follow you, Tom!

Question: Thanks, Terry, for coming also, and do you ride?

Terry: I guess I'll have to get serious about riding again. I miss going fishing and dirt biking with Tom.

Question: Get on the road and you might be the next master champ - like father, like son?

Terry: I have recorded Tyler's father’s time at Mt. Washington and I have to uphold the family name.

Question: Terry, do you ride with a Connecticut-based club?

Terry: No club. Just go out and ride around town to embarrass Tom.

And then it was time for Tom to go...

TD: Thank you all for your support and I really appreciate all of you coming online today. Good luck to you all and I'll see you at the races!

Thanks, Tom, for spending so much time with us today, and we wish you the greatest success!

Thanks also to all everyone who submitted great questions and those who joined us for the chat, including Terry Danielson and Mike Creed. Special thanks to Jakob Duma.


Tom Danielson 2003 Palmares to date

  • Mount Washington Hill Climb (N.H.) – first place
  • International Stage Race--Tour de 'Toona (Penn.), overall – first place
  • International Stage Race--Tour de 'Toona (Penn.), Altoona – second place
  • International Stage Race--Tour de 'Toona (Penn.), time trial – third place
  • Cascade Cycling Classic (Oregon), overall – first place
  • Nature Valley Grand Prix (Minn.), stage two – first place
  • Sea Otter Classic (Marina, Calif.), overall – second place
  • Sea Otter Classic (Monterey, Calif.), stage three – second place
  • Sea Otter Classic (Marina, Calif.), stage two – second place
  • Redlands Bicycle Classic (Redlands, Calif.), overall – third place
  • Redlands Bicycle Classic (Redlands, Calif.), stage five – first place
  • Redlands Bicycle Classic (Redlands, Calif.), stage two – fifth place
  • Redlands Bicycle Classic (Redlands, Calif.), prologue – third place
  • Pomona Valley Stage Race (Calif.), overall - first place
  • Pomona Valley Stage Race (Calif.), stage one - first place
  • Tour de Langkawi (Malaysia), overall – first place
  • Tour de Langkawi (Malaysia), individual time trial – third place
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