By Jared Eborn
PARK CITY – A miserable offseason filled with turmoil following an admission of doping while Lance Armstrong's teammate on U.S. Postal and a disappointing result in the recently completed Tour de France left Garmin-Sharp's Tom Danielson contemplating exactly why he's a professional cyclist.
He got his answer with a thrilling climb into the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah's yellow jersey.
“That's why we do it,” Danielson said, recounting numerous injuries, bad results and hard times. “We do it just to get that one moment like I had today.”
Danielson attacked up Empire Pass, bolting away from race leader Chris Horner, and never looked back as the American rider for Garmin-Sharp launched a dominating assault on Stage Six presented by VLCM and Barracuda Networks and become the 2013 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah champion.
Danielson entered the final day of racing at the Tour of Utah tied with RadioShack LEOPARD Trek’s Horner (USA) and was side by side with his former teammate as the final climb began. But after attacking early, Danielson crested the Empire Pass summit all alone before bombing down the descent into Park City.
Francisco Mancebo (Spain) of 5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda joined Danielson on the descent and crossed the finish line first with Jamis-Sutter Home’s Janier Acevedo (Colombia) second. Knowing Horner was well behind him and feeling content to savor his overall victory, Danielson sat up and crossed the Stage Six finish line third.
“I owed it to myself to try to be the person I know I can be and take the bull by the horns,” Danielson said, explaining he’d done some soul-searching to determine why he is a professional cyclist. “I’m doing it to try to win races like this. I don’t like to be just a guy in the peloton.”
At least in Utah, that will never be the case for Danielson as he is now a Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah champion.
Danielson’s relentless ascent of the Empire Pass turned what had been a dead heat in the overall standings into a semi-comfortable final advantage of 1:29. Acevedo’s incredible ride vaulted the Colombian into third in the final standings, just 1:37 behind Danielson.
The 78-mile Stage Six started and finished in historic Park City with huge crowds lining Main Street as the riders finished the race. With 7,633 feet of vertical gain, the stage crested the Wolf Creek Ranch and Empire Pass summits before finishing back where it began.
Orica GreegEDGE’s Michael Matthews (Australia) was part of the early breakaway and took both field sprints in Kamas and Midway to take ownership of the XO Communications sprint leader’s jersey.
The Subaru Best Young Rider jersey is on the shoulders of Garmin-Sharp’s Lachlan Morton (Australia) and Bissell Cycling Team’s Michael Torckler (New Zealand) retained his Ski Utah King of the Mountains jersey.
Mancebo, who was a part of just about every breakaway in the race, was awarded the Vivint Most Aggressive Rider jersey following his Stage Six victory.
RadioShack LEOPARD Trek had five riders finish in the top 22 overall and won the best team award after the six days of racing.
The 2013 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah expanded to Southern Utah for the first time and did not include a time trial of prologue. The success of the 2013 race opens more doors, said Steve Miller, President of Miller Sports Properties.
“The race just keeps getting better every year,” Miller said. “As far as community support, going down south was a huge success.”