BOULDER, Colorado - Tom Danielson would like to make the following public service announcement to his competition. To some it may seem like a psych job, but if you see Danielson's face when he says it, it comes across just as it sounds.
Like a warning.
Said Danielson, a favorite in Colorado's inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which begins Monday: "The last four miles of Independence Pass are very, very, very difficult."
How difficult? Let's get past the numbers first. Independence Pass is 12,095 feet. It's the highest climb in North American and European cycling. Oh, that is except for 12,126-foot Cottonwood Pass, which cyclists must climb 60 miles before Independence.
Instead, let's look at this picture: Danielson, 33, has lived and trained in Colorado's elevation for 15 years. He just finished ninth in the Tour de France. He's at the peak of his career. And, well, let him explain it . . .
"So here I am in Tour de France form and riding over Independence Pass and feeling lightheaded and suffering," Danielson said. "There's no way I could even get over that without experiencing all the different types of emotions and physical feelings just from the altitude alone."