When he rounded the final corner to face Main Street and a sea of rowdy cycling fans, he saw four other competitors cross the finish line before he did. Just like 2013, when Danielson finished third in the final stage, his fifth-place finish Sunday didn't matter. It was his collective effort over the seven-day, 576-mile stage race that weaved around the Beehive State that again crowned him a Tour of Utah champion.
"I wanted to start crying," said Danielson upon his initial arrival on Main Street. "So much work goes into it … when it all comes together like it did this week, we all understand what that means."
For Danielson, it meant holding onto the yellow jersey until next August. For Cadel Evans, Sunday showcased the 2011 Tour de France winner as the masterful tactician he is. The 37-year-old BMC Racing Team rider won Stage 7 a day after crossing the finish line first in Stage 6 Saturday at Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon. When the late breakaway headlined by Danielson and Lampre-Merida riders Chris Horner and Winner Anacona started up the final tortuous climb of the week in Empire Pass, Evans took his time picking his spot to attack.
Danielson, Horner and Anacona jockeyed for the general classification lead near the top of the hill that features 3,045 feet of elevation gain in seven miles. Evans said he knew he needed to be within 30 seconds of the break in order to make his move.
He made it. And on the descent into Park City, Evans didn't disappoint.
"I thought we'd dislodged Cadel," said Horner, who again finished second overall in the Tour, "but he did an amazing job coming back to us. His tactics in the last two corners caught us all off guard. It was beautiful to watch, and painful at the same time."
Evans rushed down the quick return to Park City to the roar of the crowd along Main Street and was the Stage 7 winner. The former Tour de France champ said his first official race in Utah turned out as expected versatile and taxing.
"I don't know if you want to make it any harder if you want more people to come back," Evans said, laughing. "I would say the quality of the racing and the motivation of the field is what was really hard."
The week of racing that began Monday morning in Cedar City and reached areas around national parks, on a professional racetrack and up to some of the state's most-appealing ski resorts was a grind. Regardless, Danielson said from Day 1 he wanted to go for a repeat winning performance. The now back-to-back Tour title winner said he never entertained the notion of feeling threatened after taking the yellow jersey in the fourth stage at Powder Mountain.
"You never know what's around the corner," he said. "I just focus on everything I can control."
The whirlwind week tested the top riders so much that it wasn't until Sunday, in the final miles of the seventh and final stage, that Danielson, Horner and Evans realized how much difficult racing had been done. Danielson said it was during a short bathroom break that they'd marveled at it all.
"From the first stage, you could see guys were already at their threshold," he said.
Tour of Utah's top 10
Top 10 overall general classification:
1 • Tom Danielson (U.S.), Team-Garmin Sharp, 30.18'04''
2 • Chris Horner (U.S.), Lampre-Merida, 30.18'56''
3 • Winner Anacona (Colombia), Lampre-Merida, 30.19'47''
4 • Ben Hermans (Belgium), BMC Racing Team, 30.19'50''
5 • Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands), Belkin-Pro Cycling Team, 30.19'53''
6 • Cadel Evans (Australia), BMC Racing Team, 30.20'18''
7 • Carter Jones (U.S.), Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, 30.21'01''
8 • Alex Diniz (Brazil), Funvic Brasilinvest-Sao Jose, 30.21'52''
9 • George Bennett (New Zealand), Cannondale, 30.22'04''
10 • Lachlan Norris (Australia), Drapac Pro Cycling, 30.23'03''
P Park City to Park City: 78.2 miles
1. Cadel Evans (Australia), BMC Racing Team, 3 hours, 10 minutes, 52 seconds
2. Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands), Belkin-Pro Cycling Team, same time
3. Winner Anacona (Colombia), Lampre-Merida, same time
4. Chris Horner (U.S.), Lampre-Merida, same time
5. Tom Danielson (U.S.), Team-Garmin Sharp, +:05
6. Carter Jones (U.S.), Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, +:10
7. Ben Hermans (Belgium), BMC Racing Team, +:25
8. George Bennett (New Zealand), Cannondale, +:25
9. Lachlan Norris (Australia), Drapac Pro Cycling, +:25
10. Yannick Eijssen (Belgium), BMC Racing Team, +:25
Top 10 teams overall
2. BMC Racing Team
3. Trek Factory Racing
4. Hincapie Sports Devo Team
5. Jamis-Hagens Berman
6. Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
7. Drapac Pro Cycling
8. Bissell Development Team
9. Team SmartStop