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Seaside, CA – With Chris Horner (Team RadioShack) tearing the legs off the peloton, including his teammate’s, three-time Amgen Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer, up Sierra Road during Stage 4, it is quite easy to overlook the rest of the field, and for that matter the remaining stages.

But with an Individual Time Trial (ITT) and a brutal ascent of Mt. Baldy on the horizon, no one is holding out for hope more than the man Lance Armstrong once tabbed “The Great White Hope,” Garmin-Cervelo’s Tom Danielson, who currently sits in third on the General Classification.

Since bursting onto the scene with victories in the Tour of Qinghai Lake (2001), Tour de Langkawi (2003), Tour of Georgia (2005) and Tour of Austria (2006), the 33-year old has battled a mountain of expectation and a series of inconsistencies throughout his professional road racing career. One thing, however, that has never come into question is Danielson’s climbing acumen.

Before the start of Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California, I caught up with Danielson, who gauged his chances of pulling off a surprise.

“I feel really good,” commented Danielson on his current form. “I didn’t expect to be where I am now, but I gonna have to play all my cards on Mt. Baldy and I know that. That climb suits me real well and I’m really happy to be where I’m at. Now I have a couple of stages that will be difficult and I’ll just have to perform well there and do well on Mt. Baldy.”

About his chances during the ITT in Solvang, Danielson added, “Yeah, I’m good. Hopefully I’ve improved. The last couple of weeks I worked on it quite a bit because this year it hasn’t been my strong point so we’ll see how I can do. I’ve got form so that a big part of time trialing, along with the equipment. It think I’m there so we’ll see on Friday.”