Tom Danielson climbed into the top-10 with a superb ride in the first day of the mountains in Thursday’s 211km 12th stage into the Pyrénées.
The Tour rookie stayed with the GC favorites until the final, late-stage attacks with just a few kilometers to go in the grueling, three-climb 211km stage from Cugnaux to Luz-Ardiden. Samuel Sanchez won the stage and Danielson crossed the line 11th at 1:03 back.
“I felt good, stayed steady and listened to my body, I rode the best I could and I was pretty close in the end, so I am satisfied,” Danielson said.
“I cannot complain.I was a little empty at the end, with those guys’ accelerations came in the end. For me, the key is to be steady every single day, and when I have an opportunity, take it.”
The result was an important confirmation for Danielson, who is riding the Tour de France for the first time after shining in the Giro d’Italia and winning a stage and finishing in the top-10 overall at the Vuelta a España.
With the solid ride, Danielson climbed into ninth overall at 4:35 behind race leader Thomas Voeckler.
The first mountain stage of the 2011 Tour was hard on everyone and the peloton split on the first of three climbs. By the hors-categorie Tourmalet climb midway through the stage, only the strongest riders were able to maintain contact.
Garmin-Cervélo’s Ryder Hesjedal rode well to support Danielson until the day’s final climb up the 13.3km Luz-Ardiden summit.
“I’ve been really beaten up these past few days, so I was happy to get over the Tourmalet and be there for Tom,” Hesjedal said.
“Tom’s riding great, we just need to be around him and support him best as possible. He showed it today. I was there for him in the last four Ks of this final climb. Based on how I felt the last few days, I was happy with what I was able to do what I could today.”
All of Garmin-Cervélo’s riders made it safely within the time cut. Riders such as Tyler Farrar, Julian Dean and Ramunas Navardauskas rode in with the final group more than 30 minutes behind the winner.
Garmin-Cervélo’s Christian Vande Velde fought hard to stay with the leaders, but admitted that the wear and tear of crashes he suffered during the first half of the Tour proved too much.
“The crashes just caught up with me today,” Vande Velde said.
“I was feeling twisted on the bike, my back really hurt, I had no power. Crashing five times in the first half of the Tour doesn’t help. Now we’ll help Tom, he’s riding great.”
The 98th Tour continues Friday with the 152.5km 13th stage from Pau to Lourdes. The route tackles the HC Col d’Aubisque, one of the steepest climbs in the Pyrénées, but the route favors a breakaway because the final climb is more than 40km from the finish line.
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