After winning Stage 4 of the 2014 Tour of Utah (from Ogden to Powder Mountain) on Thursday, Tom Danielson never relinquished the yellow jersey en route to his second-straight victory at the seven-stage event.
Danielson, a rider for Team Garmin-Sharp, crossed the finish line with his hands raised in victory on Park City's Main Street on Sunday afternoon to the roar of a massive crowd. He knew his lead of nearly a minute hadn't been passed and he had claimed another Tour win, a feeling he said was nearly indescribable.
"It's magic," he said. "It's really special to come across the line with so many fans. I wanted to start crying. So much work goes into it. All of us athletes have been through so much that when it all comes together like it did this week, we all understand what that means and it's really special."
He added that this year's victory was nothing like last year's win, when he didn't clinch the yellow jersey until the final day.
"It was totally different," he said. "[Last year] I was coming off the Tour de France and was a bit of an unknown. I was really strong in the Snowbird day and it was like, 'Hey, I can win this race if I go bananas on the Empire climb. If it works, it works; if it doesn't, it doesn't.'
"This year, coming in, I knew I was in good form. I held my hand up and said, 'I want to win this race.' There was a lot more pressure and it was a lot harder on the team. We had a lot younger team this year with a lot of kinks along the way. But we performed above and beyond.
Though Danielson won his second-straight Tour title, Cadel Evans of the BMC Racing Team won the Park City stage, his second stage win in a row after also taking first place in Stage 6 on Saturday. Danielson finished fifth on Sunday.
Evans expertly bridged a sizable gap on the descent into Park City to surpass Danielson and the other race leaders. Even he was surprised by how well he rode on Sunday.
"Today was a surprise, actually," he said. "After yesterday's effort, I didn't have too high of expectations for myself.
Evans had a great week, considering this was the first time he ever participated in the Tour of Utah. The 2011 Tour de France champion said he had a fantastic time seeing what Utah had to offer.
"With scenery like that, no one that I know that watches this race doesn't want to come to Utah now because of the scenery," he said.
Christopher Horner, of Lampre-Merida, finished in second place overall in the GC after finishing fourth in Stage 7. Despite battling illness all week, Horner's overall time was only 52 seconds behind Danielson's. He said Sunday was the first day he felt good on his bike.
"Today's stage, I wasn't really affected by it because it stayed dry all day," he said. "Today was the first day I felt normal, more or less. I was almost 100 percent I had nice legs, good form and a good result."
Heading into the Tour of Spain beginning on Aug. 23, Horner hopes to be fully healthy.
"[My form] is better now than it was last year," he said. "I just need to get healthy. Hopefully these rest days help. I just need to take it easy this week."
So, after another Tour victory, what's next for Danielson? He's going to race in Colorado (the USA Pro Challenge) in a couple weeks, but first, he took care of some business in Park City.
"Barbecue in Park City," he said. "I've got to pay back my teammates. We'll eat well, drink some beer, stuff like that."
Tour of Utah jersey winners
Larry H. Miller yellow jersey (overall winner): Tom Danielson
Utah Sports Commission white jersey (best sprinter): Jure Kocjan
Subaru blue jersey (best young rider): Dylan Teuns
Ski Utah jersey (best climber): Joseph Rosskopf
Washakie Renewable Energy green jerseys (best team): Lampre-Merida
Tour of Utah GC standings
Tom Danielson 30:18:04
Chris Horner 30:18:56
Winner Anacona Gomez 30:19:47
Ben Hermans 30:19:50
Wilco Kelderman 30:19:53