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Tom Danielson, in a Langkawi State of Mind

December 15, 2011

Tom Danielson (l), 2003 Tour of Langkawi

Has Tom Danielson reached back to memories of his 2003 Tour of Langkawi win to frame his approach to his 2012 season? Here’s what he told the Norwegian Syklingens in 2003 when asked if his win in Langkawi came as a surprise: “Yes, it completely came as a surprise. I was just going over there to learn and become a better racer, I had no expectations.”

That’s how the Team Garmin-Cervélo rider intends to approach his primary goal for 2012, the Tour de France, where he finished ninth in 2011 as the highest placed American. On Monday night at a meet and greet for fans in Boulder which doubled as a celebration of the city’s selection as a finishing location for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Danielson was asked this question: “Do you have a placement in mind for the Tour de France?”

Danielson replied, “Nope, I can’t say…” He paused. “I have a performance in mind.”

So the reporter reframed the question: “What marks a good performance for you in the Tour?” Bingo.

“Now that’s the best question I’ve ever had,” Danielson said. “A good performance for me in the TDF is going in with confidence and without expectations. I think to go into these events with an expectation is a limiter for me, because I either meet that expectation and then I stay at that expectation or I don’t meet it and become frustrated that I didn’t meet it. So my goal and a good performance is to go in there with no expectations and with a lot of heart and just give it my all every single day from the start to the finish line.”

Tom Danielson autographing photos at Tossa (photo by Mary Topping)

It sounds like Danielson plans to repeat another approach from his past, this one from last year: spending as much time as he can training at home and with his family. The team’s training camp in Calpe, Spain, is slated for mid-January. Danielson intends to return to Boulder before traveling to Malaysia to start in the Tour of Langkawi on February 24th. He said, “I’ll train out of Boulder or if it’s too cold I’ll go somewhere else, but try to do a little altitude if I can.” He’d like to “try to stay relaxed with the family and in familiar environments early on in the season, and then really intensify the focus and training as we get closer to July,” he said. His program doesn’t include the Giro d’Italia in May.

2012 will be his first time competing in the ten-day Malaysian race since 2005 when he placed fifth while riding for the Discovery Channel Team. He’s looking forward to everything about the Tour of Langkawi: the country’s tropical heat and humidity, the pristine roads where monkeys sometimes play, and the huge crowds. “Of course I’m very passionate about that event. There’s a time trial this year, and a finish on Genting Highlands – I love that climb,” Danielson said. Genting Highlands is a steep 25 km ascent; Danielson won the stage that finished there in 2003. “I’ll want to do well there for sure if I can, but it’s early in the year, and it’s not really worth worrying about all the variables I can’t control,” he said. “I’ll just go there and ride as well as I can and test out how I’m going after the off-season.”

Tom and Stevie Danielson before Thanksgiving Ride for Juniors (Mary Topping)

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