"I just remember seeing stars everywhere and some yellow spots," Danielson said. "I had sweat all over my face … I was just trying to change the pace and go fast."
The 36-year-old wasn't going fast up the 3,000-foot climb the last six miles. No cyclist was. But compared with the other riders he crawled by, Danielson was cruising. The Team Garmin-Sharp member moved by longtime adversary Chris Horner, who temporarily led the break up the massive climb and didn't look back until the final winding curve. When Danielson eventually crossed the finish line, he pointed two fingers at his chest. Stage 4 was his, as was the overall lead and yellow jersey. Finishing second was Ben Hermans of BMC Racing Team, with Horner finishing third overall in the stage.
It was a challenge Danielson wanted when he woke up Thursday morning. His youthful Garmin-Sharp team, fresh off its performance at the Tour de France two weeks ago, delivered for their star.
Ben King was the "MVP," Danielson said as the 25-year-old held the early 14-man breakaway all by himself in order for his teammates to eventually catch up.
"I wanted to deal with the full pressure and try it and overcome that," Danielson said. "I put my hand up and I said I'm in good shape and that I want to do it. Then my teammates turned themselves inside out, so winning a stage like that after your teammates gut themselves for you, there's no better feeling in the world than that."
Horner, known as one of the top climbers in the sport, had to let Danielson ride on by when he noticed his attack. The 42-year-old defending Vuelta Espana champion has been dealing with a lingering lung infection since before the Tour de France. On his third round of antibiotics, Horner conceded he must pick another spot to fight on the seven-stage Tour of Utah.
"Eventually, it was just a little wiser for me to sit up and ease up a little bit or else I would have exploded," Horner said. "At altitude, you don't want to explode otherwise you lose 30 minutes in that 5K [span], so it was easier to sit up."
Danielson's consistency on the climb provided more than the yellow jersey heading into Stage 5. The defending Tour winner now has a 57-second lead in the overall standings, leading both Hermans and Horner. That should make the next three stages more interesting, Horner said.
"As long as [Danielson's] climbing good like this, he's hard to beat," Horner said. We'll see if there's some tactics involved."
Stage 4 results
Ogden to Powder Mountain • 104.7 miles
1. Tom Danielson (U.S.), Team Garmin-Sharp
2. Ben Hermans (Belgium), BMC Racing Team
3. Chris Horner (U.S.), Lampre-Merida
4. Winner Anacona (Colombia), Lampre-Merida,
5. Alex Diniz (Brazil), Funvic Brasilinvest
6. Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands), Belkin-Pro Cycling
7. George Bennett (New Zealand), Cannondale
8. Carter Jones (U.S.), Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
9. Cadel Evans (Australia), BMC Racing Team
10. Lachlan Norris (Australia), Drapac Pro Cycling
1. Tom Danielson (U.S.), Team Garmin-Sharp, 18.42'53" (+.57)
2. Chris Horner (U.S.), Lampre-Merida, 18.43'50"
3. Ben Hermans (Belgium), BMC Racing Team, 18.43'50"'
4. Winner Anacona (Colombia), Lampre-Merida, 18.44'40"
5. Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands), Belkin-Pro Cycling, 18.45'00"
6. Alex Diniz (Brazil), Funvic Brasilinvest, 18.45'00"
7. George Bennett (New Zealand), Cannondale, 18.45'19"
8. Carter Jones (U.S.), Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, 18.45'24"
9. Cadel Evans (Australia), BMC Racing Team, 18.45'36"
10. Lachlan Norris (Australia), Drapac Pro Cycling, 18.45'44"
Top 10 overall team results
2. BMC Racing Team
3. Hincapie Devo Team
4. Trek Factory Racing
5. Team Garmin-Sharp
6. Drapac Pro Cycling
7. Bissell Devo Team
8. Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter H.
9. Team SmartStop
10. Funvic Brasilinvest-Sao Jose Dos Campos
Stage 5 preview
About the stage • From Evanston, Wyo., to Kamas, covering 101.4 miles with an elevation gain of more than 5,700 feet
Starts • 11:20 a.m. in Evanston
TV • ROOT, 2 p.m.