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Lucas Euser holds third overall and Tom Danielson moves into second in Tour of Utah

August 11, 2013
Lucas Euser, George Bennett, and Matthew Busche (r to l) arrive at Snowbird 5th, 4th, and 6th

Lucas Euser, George Bennett, and Matthew Busche (r to l) arrive at Snowbird 5th, 4th, and 6th

Lucas Euser third overall

The uphill finish at Snowbird and 10,611 feet (3,234 meters) of elevation gain ferreted out the best climbers with energy to spare in the fifth day of the Tour of Utah.

The names included UnitedHealthcare’s Lucas Euser. The Boulder, Colorado resident finished fifth and preserved his third place overall, positioning him for a podium result when the tour concludes tomorrow.

Euser and teammate Phil Deignan kept pace as the number of lead chasers dwindled along the roads to Snowbird. When it comes to when and where to attack, those are questions Euser weighs carefully. “I’ve worked really hard to stay calm, and not get too crazy, and not go with moves I’m going to blow up from,” he said after the finish.

Four kilometers from the arrival line he jumped in an effort to bridge up to Horner and Danielson. He estimated he’d closed the gap to about 15 to 20 seconds.

With eventual stage winner Chris Horner’s RadioShack-Leopard mates Matthew Busche and George Bennett for company, closing the gap proved too difficult. Reflecting on the final kilometers, Euser thought the better choice would have been to stay with Deignan.

Euser counts lessons like blessings and it’s taking him closer to the podium at this year’s Tour of Utah.

“I’m making fewer and fewer mistakes now. You saw last year that making less mistakes got me top ten [in Utah] and making less mistakes now is keeping me in the top three.”

Last year Euser summited the steep Empire climb second. He’ll have another chance at it Sunday on the last day of the race.

Chris Horner wins Stage 5 at 2013 Tour of Utah, Tom Danielson 2nd

Chris Horner wins Stage 5 at 2013 Tour of Utah, Tom Danielson 2nd

Tom Danielson finds his fire

On day one of the Tour of Utah at Brian Head resort Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) reflected on his “not very good Tour de France.” Injured early on, he said he subsequently rode a conservative race. Now in Utah he hoped to be “more in the mix.”

Four days later he got his wish in the Wasatch Mountains around Snowbird. It kind of snuck up on him.

Garmin-Sharp set a hard pace during Stage 5 to protect teammate and yellow jersey Lachlan Morton from attacks. Danielson continued that charge as the race reached Little Cottonwood Canyon. He chased down Tiago Machado of RadioShack-Leopard and continued to maintain a high pace, thinking he might discover Morton behind him.

But when he looked back a group of five guys chased without Morton among them. Danielson attacked and shook RadioShack-Leopard’s Bennett off his wheel.

“To be honest I’ve been trying to get into the mindset to be at the front. For me it’s been probably one of my weaknesses is racing for the win,” Danielson said. “I have not been very good at that the last few years…In the end again I was still racing for Lachlan until I found myself off the front and then I guess that kind of automatically forced me to be in that kind of race winning mentality.”

Then Horner bridged up to Danielson and stuck to him. The pair caught BMC’s Yannick Eijssen at about 3.5 kilometers to go. Eijssen had escaped off the front of the breakaway, motivated by his teammates’ confidence in his ability.

Long-time friends Danielson and Horner made their way to Snowbird in the lead. With Busche and Bennet behind, Horner sat on.

That left Danielson at the head of the race for the remaining three kilometers. Even towing Horner up to the line for the RadioShack rider’s almost sure win failed to dampen his high spirits.

“To be honest I just wanted to feel what it feels like to be at the front of the race. I haven’t done this in my career, really, just attacked and then dominated a mountain stage like I did today from the front.

“It was a lot of fun. I think Chris and I were also together last year but towards the back of the front guys so it was cool to be the first guys and be doing 390 watts at 9,000 feet as opposed to 280 watts at 9,000 feet like last year.”

Danielson moved into second overall. His efforts today signal a good USA Pro Challenge lies ahead of him in Colorado later this month.

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