The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Next Lance, or the Next LaLoosh?

Smack talk from the New York Times regarding Tom Danielson (Lance's heir apparent on Team Discovery (ex-USPS)):
A relaxed, self-assured 27-year-old from Colorado, Danielson has a public persona that recalls that of Nuke LaLoosh from the movie "Bull Durham." He seems almost coached in his delivery of relatively meaningless sports platitudes, making certain he says nothing controversial or accepts too easily the mantle that some have tried to place on him.
Now, I don't know if the writer, Edward Wyatt, meant that quite as negatively as it sounds - to me, at least, Nuke was pretty much an idiot savant of the mound - but I can see a sports writer viewing athletes in his mold as dull (in every sense), but not insultingly so.

At any rate, this is the first slam I've heard on this guy. He won last year's Tour de Georgia, until now America's only meaningful pro race, but was held out of the Tour de France, ostensibly for general training reasons, but possibly for exposure reasons, as well (I always thought it was odd to hold off the last chance the guy would have to ride the race in the shadow of Lance, as opposed to in the glare of his absence, but what do I know?). This article says he'll be held out of the Tour again, which strikes me as odd - Lance was considered over the hill at 33, and Danielson is already 27. Hold him out another year, then assume it takes him a year or two to get used to the race, and you're basically resigning the guy to no more than 2 realistic chances to win. Strange for someone who's not necessarily the Next Lance, but is certainly Discovery's only candidate to fill his carbon fiber shoes.

I also think about Yaro, Yaroslav Popyvich, the White Jersey (best young rider) winner at last year's Tour. Perhaps Team Discovery is holding out Danielson as a sop to American fans of Lance, but Johan Bruyneel thinks Yaro is the Team's real future. Part of me is terrified that Team Discovery will turn into 2006's T-Mobile, with competing teammates leading to a situation where no one can succeed. We'll see.



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