Garmin-Cervélo secured likely victory in the prestigious team classification while Tom Danielson sewed up a spot in the top-10 with another strong performance in Saturday’s decisive time trial at the Tour de France.
Danielson powered to 11th on the stage at 2:08 slower than stage-winner Tony Martin to secure ninth place overall with just one stage left in the 2011 Tour. Cadel Evans rode to second on the stage to claim the yellow jersey.
“its a dream come true. To be in the top 10 at my first Tour de France, I can’t believe it,” said Danielson.
“The team has been so great, we have had an amazing Tour. I have to thank the guys, and Jonathan and Robby Ketchell for everything they’ve done for me here. And if we’re lucky enough to end up as the best team, that shows what a team effort the Tour de France is and how beautiful our sport is. I couldn’t be happier.
Christian Vande Velde and David Millar rode to 25th and 33rd, respectively, despite both of them suffering from minor chest colds to help Garmin-Cervélo all but win the team classification. It leads Leopard-Trek by a comfortable margin with just Sunday’s sprint stage on tap.
“We’re very happy to have the team GC. It’s something you start the Tour with having it in the back of your mind, but we rode smart and later in the race it was right there for the taking,” Vande Velde said. “There were a few days when we had to throw everything we had, plus the kitchen sink, to defend it. I am really glad that we could stick it out and defend it through the Alps. It’s a perfect way to cap this Tour for us as a team.”
Barring disaster, Garmin-Cervélo’s hugely successful Tour will end with all eight remaining riders heading to the winner’s podium to claim the team classification prize Sunday in Paris.
Garmin-Cervélo came with a lot of ambition for the 2011 and ticked off just about every box off the list. The squad won the team time trial in stage 2, which put Thor Hushovd in the yellow jersey. Tyler Farrar won stage 3 and Hushovd won two more stages.
Danielson riding into Paris in the top-10 was another important goal. Ryder Hesjedal was a key helper for Danielson through the Alps and helped pace Danielson to the finish line up Friday’s exciting stage on Alpe d’Huez.
“I know how important it is for Tom to finish in the top-10 in the Tour and I am glad that I was there to help him achieve his goal,” Hesjedal said. “I had to forget about my own GC chances early because I had a few crashes. I just had to dig through it because I knew I could be strong in the final week like I always am. I attacked on Alpe d’Huez because my legs were feeling good. It was amazing to be at the front of the action on that historic climb. I was right there and then I could help Tommy to the line. It was an action-packed 14km, that’s for sure.”
Garmin-Cervélo will fly to the outskirts of Paris on Sunday mooring to line up for the 95km final stage from Créteil to the Champs-Élysées. The first part of the stage is relaxing, but things get serious when the speeds ramp up for a final sprint down one of Europe’s most emblematic scenes.
Last year, Garmin-Cérvelo’s Julian Dean sprinted to third on the stage. This year, the team will rally around Tyler Farrar, who will be aiming for his second stage victory of the 2011 Tour.
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