The downside of working 10-hour shifts is that it interrupts my live bike racing schedule. Okay, so I make due with some different live updates and keeping my twitter stream up. After working 6 straight 10-hour days, my brain was a bit fried but I look up to see Greg Daniel in the breakaway in the Tour of California. Alright, I think, Daniel is a damn strong rider and I like seeing a young gun in the breakaway. Little did I know that he would be fighting it out for the win just a couple hours later.
I get busy with work and I don't think much about the time gap as I think the sprinters teams are just saving their wad for a little later. The next time I look back the race is down to just 10 kilometers left. Could this happen? The break is absolutely flying down the coast and the peloton isn't making a dent. Could Daniel pull it off? Looking at the break, there was some possibility. Matt Cooke is a stellar climber for Jamis but no sprinter. Jonny Clarke is a good road captain for UHC and Chris Jones has been top 5 in the Tour of Britain. Will Routley (Optum) was the dangerman; the Canadian nearly won Tro Bro Leon one year. So what would a 19 year old be able to do against these guys?
The video pretty much shows it all. Daniel is covering the moves he needs to and keeps it together for the sprint before Routley does his best John Degenkolb impression and leads it out from the front. Daniel didn't have the snap to follow him instantly but was able to pick up some speed near the end, pass Kevin De Mesmaeker (Novo Nordisk) before the line and end up just a couple bike lengths behind Routley for 2nd. It was a well deserved win by Routley, who has been ripping it up this week so far, but Daniel is knocking on the door big time.
This isn't the first time Daniel has been close to a big win this year. Earlier this year, Daniel attacked his breakaway mates late in the 2nd stage of the Volta ao Alentejo and was solo up until the final half kilometer, where the charging peloton finally got him back. But this ride? A sign of big things to come. I know it sounds like I'm just lauding him with praise but California is a 2.HC race. Just a small step under World Tour races and it is arguably one of the bigger 2.HC races on the UCI calendar due to the teams that attend the race. Daniel is just in his 2nd year removed from the junior ranks. For some comparison, the only other rider born in 1994 to hit the podium on a 2.HC stage this year is Merhawi Kudus. That isn't supposed to be a comparison of ability between the two but if you are are not keeping an eye on Greg Daniel, you must have went through with your scheduled lobotomy.