January 29, 2005 – Tom Danielson took the world by storm when he won the Tour of Langkawi in 2003, riding for the Saturn team. He signed a contract with the Italian mega-team Fassa Bortolo for 2004, but found himself at home much more than at races. For 2005, Danielson returns to an American team, Discovery Channel. Pedal caught up with Danielson to talk about his new team.
Tom, new team, you must be stoked to “start over again” in the Euro pro ranks.
TD:Yes, I am very happy with the new team. However, I don’t really see it as a start over. I am very new in the sport of road cycling and each year I use as sort of a step towards my ultimate goals. Last year was very difficult, but very needed. Discovery Channel is the best team in the world, and I believe I really needed this past year of learning to be able to be an asset to this team. I learned things on and off the bike at Fassa that I was missing before. Now I am ready to do my job.
Do you have any ill feelings or regrets about Fassa? What’s your take on 2004 and what did you learn?
TD: No not at all. Yes, it was difficult and I was put in many situations that I had never been in before, but I see it as just part of my journey towards my goals. Basically I was left on my own and I learned by making mistakes. Saturn and Mercury really took care of my and I just didn’t learn about racing and the peloton. With Fassa I was in a new country, culture, team, peloton, and so on, on my own. I overcame many obstacles, and was even climbing with the front groups in big races after fighting to gain 100 positions to get to the front. Now I feel I have become wiserS last year basically made up for years of racing knowledge that I’d missed out on before.
At least you learned some Italian, right? What about French? Are you on your way to being multi-lingual?
TD: Yeah, I got some Italian done, and took French in high school so I can understand it a bit. Man, this job really makes you a complete person. You see the world and have to adapt to it. It is amazing some of the places we have been to and the real-world education we receive outside of cycling.
I’ve heard that Langkawi is more for preparation for you. So what’s your role this week?
TD: To help MIB smoke it! Michael looks really good and I would like to see him have a big year. I think this race for him is training too, but with the classics on the horizon I can see he has some form in the legs. So my role is to get good training in and work together as a team and see if we can get a Discovery jersey on the podium before the end of the week.
What would you be doing now if you weren’t a bikerboy?
TD: Probably using my Marketing/Psychology degree and supporting my wife Kristin [Johnson] with her racing full-time. She is quite the engine on a bike!
You are rooming with Michael Creed, does he snore and still talk about Mandy Moore in his sleep? [When single, Creed often wrote in his on-line diary about getting to know Mandy Moore.]
TD: Yes, I am rooming with Creed and he doesn’t snore, but he is so funny it’s hard for me to answer these questions because I am laughing so hard! I’m guessing Mandy Moore is a friend of Sheryl Crowe’s so Mike can finally meet her. But now that he is a married man, he better be careful what he wishes for!
Thanks Tom,and good luck this year.
TD: No problem Matt, and thanks!